SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – A Scottsdale man faces a felony charge of animal cruelty after police say a home surveillance camera recorded him kicking a dog multiple times. Police arrested Zachary Joseph McMillen, 29, at his Scottsdale home shortly before 2 am Thursday.
According to court documents, video shows McMillen in his backyard with the dog Wednesday morning. Police documented four kicks to the dog’s shoulder and chest area. After the first two, police say McMillen appeared “to be looking around him to … ensure that he was not being watched.” This video has not been made public at this time.
Police said McMillen told them he was “frustrated” because the dog was not going to the bathroom and described his actions as “nudging him.” Police described it a little differently. “The kicks are made with such force the camera picked-up (sic) an audible ‘thud’ [with] each strike,” they wrote in McMillen’s public court documents. “The dog appeared to be in distress while being kicked.” Police did not say if the dog was taken to the vet or mention the severity of any injuries beyond being “in distress.”
McMillen was released on his own recognizance, but the judge said he cannot have contact with the dog. McMillen’s release order says the dog will be rehomed, at least for now. No prior arrests are listed on McMillen’s court paperwork, so it’s not clear if he has a criminal history. Under Arizona law, a class 5 felony carries a presumptive sentence of 18 months in prison for first-time offenders.
animal cruelty in arizona
Until 2019, all animal cruelty cases were classified as class 6 felonies — the lowest of Arizona’s felonies and convictions — and were often pleaded down to misdemeanors. In many, if not most, cases, that meant little or no jail time and no probation or court supervision. When Arizona’s new law went into effect in August 2019, prosecutors were given the option to charge alleged animal abusers with a class 5 felony, which means mandatory jail time, mandatory probation, supervised probation, and possibly court-ordered medical treatments for those convicted.
📄/▸ New Arizona law on animal cruelty goes into effect (Aug. 27, 2019)
It was nearly two years (19 months) before an animal abuser in Arizona was booked and sentenced in accordance with the 2019 law. In that case, the man who pleaded guilty to the class 5 felony hurt his pug badly during a domestic violence incident shortly after the law went into effect. The pug, Miso, was a registered emotional support dog and eventually recovered from his severe injuries. In March 2021, the man was sentenced to 120 days in jail, three years of supervised probation, and 360 hours of community service. He also had to have a mental health assessment, attend anger management counseling, and undergo drug monitoring and counseling. “I think what this shows is animal cruelty will not be tolerated in our state,” Arizona Humane Society spokesperson Bretta Nelson said at the time. AHS was one of several animal-welfare organizations that fought for animal abusers to receive more than a slap on the wrist. They believed the charge and punishment should reflect the severity of the crime.
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