CHICAGO -- Joshua Moore shook his head in court Friday as prosecutors recounted scenes of animal abuse from videos posted to YouTube.
The videos showed a dog in a harness being spun like a propeller, dogs being tossed in the air and allowed to fall to the ground, puppies being hidden from their mother "as a form of psychological torture" and other disturbing acts, prosecutors said.
Moore, 22, and a 13-year-old boy face animal torture and cruelty charges for the acts shown in five videos, which drew the attention of animal rights activists and eventually led Chicago police investigators to a home in the South Austin neighborhood.
Moore was arrested at the home Thursday, police said. The 13-year-old who appeared with Moore in the videos was arrested at his school the same day, his mother said.
"This is bizarre for us, we were simply stunned," said the boy's grandmother, who would not give her name Friday as she returned home with her grandson. "We will hold him (the boy) accountable, because this is not who we are as a family."
Five dogs found at the home, all terriers or Chihuahua mixes, and five mixed-breed puppies were seized by police and placed with the city's Animal Care and Control center.
Moore was ordered held on $150,000 bond on four felony counts of animal torture and eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, police said. The boy is charged as a juvenile with six counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and three counts of animal torture, according to police.
Police in Fort Wayne, Ind., contacted Chicago police after receiving complaints from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which had also complained to YouTube about the videos. The website has taken them down, said Sgt. Mark George, supervisor of the animal crimes unit.
Moore told police in Fort Wayne that he had made the videos in late January and early February while he was staying with the boy's family in Chicago, and seemed unconcerned about what he had done, George said.
"(He) thought it was no big deal, that we were making a mountain out of a molehill," George said.
George said his team usually deals with dog fighting or severe animal neglect cases. While not as brutal as animal fighting, George said the videos, with Moore and the boy providing narration, were deeply disturbing.
The boy's mother described Moore as a friend of a friend, and said she let him stay at the house in November while he got "stabilized" and found a job and enrolled in college classes. Moore had been homeless, she said.
But by February, Moore had worn out his welcome, the women said. The family reached out to the Moore's girlfriend in Indiana, who didn't want him to return.
Animal Care and Control Executive Director Cherie Travis said she expected authorities to ask the family to voluntarily give up the dogs and allow them to be adopted.
"If they don't, we would ask a judge to give them to us," Travis said.
The boy's mother said that over the years she acquired at least two dogs after she had miscarriages, to make up for not having more children.
"Those dogs are not just dogs, they're family," said the mother. "They (police) took everything that made my home, home."
(Tribune reporter Jason Meisner contributed.)
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