Austin cop arrested on animal cruelty, child endangerment charges

Editor’s Note: The following story has descriptions of alleged animal abuse or cruelty. Reader discretion is advised.

A Kyle man faces animal cruelty and child endangerment charges after authorities accuse him of beating his dog in front of his 10-year-old son while in their yard, with all of it caught on video.

Christopher Vetrano, 47, of Kyle, was booked into the Hays County Jail July 27 on a charge of cruelty to non-livestock, a third-degree felony, along with abandoning or endangering a child, which is a state jail felony. Kyle city officials confirmed Vetrano currently works as an Austin Police Department officer. Vetrano was not on duty when the alleged incidents took place.

According to an arrest affidavit, Kyle Police officers were dispatched to the 100 block of North Front Street May 29 for an animal cruelty call.

When officers arrived, a neighbor said she saw in February or March her neighbor, Vetrano, throw his dog to the ground and yell at it. The neighbor then saw Vetrano “repeatedly punch the dog in the face” until she believed the dog bit him in defense, according to the affidavit.

The dog is a 60-pound, seven-year-old Austrialian Kelpie. While the neighbor did not have video of the February or March incident, she showed officers five video clips from a separate May 24 incident. The Hays Free Press submitted a public information request with Kyle city officials July 30 for the video.

According to the affidavit, the clips allegedly showed Vetrano “tortured the dog by causing unnecessary pain and suffering.” The dog was cornered and then physically abused, according to investigators.

The first video clip showed Vetrano holding a broom or a rake and allegedly yelling “bite me” several times to the dog. Vetrano then allegedly said “I will f***** kill you, dog” and “I won’t put up with your s***, I will put your a** down” to the animal, who is heard yelping in the video.

According to the affidavit, Vetrano, over the course of the five clips, allegedly punched or struck the animal initially with his left hand, then later struck the dog approximately six times with the broom or rake in his right hand.

The child, who witnessed the incident, “displayed non-verbal signs of disbelief by jumping out of the way and placing his hands over his mouth,” according to the affidavit.

In later clips, the child is seen walking around and not wanting to leave the animal. According to the affidavit, it “appears” the child tried to physically grab Vetrano and pull him away from striking the dog. At one point during one of the video clips, Vetrano walks away as the child stands between him and the animal, before he continued to hit the dog.

The neighbor eventually confronted Vetrano and yelled, “what the f*** are you doing,” with Vetrano replying, “I’m beating my dog.” The exchange was also witnessed by the child, according to the affidavit.

When the neighbor tried to tell Vetrano to “not beat you dog in front of your kid,” Vetrano said for them to “mind your own f***** business.”

According to the affidavit, a health evaluation was conducted on the dog June 4, as required by Kyle Animal Control. During the physical exam, the veterinarian was unable to localize a specific area of pain and said the dog was nervous and anxious and had a stiff hindlimb gait and a tense abdomen. The dog, however, reported no signs of aggression.

On June 7, Vetrano agreed to a voluntary interview with investigators, which was done with his attorney present, according to the affidavit. Vetrano said he was disciplining the dog because “the dog digs.” However, he declined an interview to be conducted with his child.

Child Protective Services (CPS) was notified due to the Vetrano’s behavior on the video. Additionally, investigators met with a dog behavior specialist, who reviewed the video.

The specialist said using a stick or broom is “not an appropriate way to discipline a canine,” according to the affidavit.

The specialist added that Vetrano’s actions placed the child in imminent danger and of physical or mental injury based on the accusations that Vetrano cornered the animal and struck it. It could also possibly lead the animal to attack the child, according to the affidavit.

Vetrano was released from the Hays County Jail July 28 on $30,000 bond.

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