A homeless Marathon man was jailed Wednesday, charged with felony animal cruelty for allegedly beating his pit bull terrier Wally at a shopping plaza.
Benjamin Check, 21, also is charged with misdemeanor theft.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office says about 12:45 a.m., deputies were called to the Marathon Grill and Alehouse in the Gulfside Plaza after people saw him beating Wally.
Witnesses said Check was picking "Wally up by the ears and slam[ming] him into the ground repeatedly. They also saw him thrust his knee into Wally's side. They said during the entire attack, Wally was crying out in pain," Deputy Becky Herrin said.
Check was searched and found with someone else's wallet, hence the theft charge.
Safe Harbor Animal Rescue of the Keys was called and took custody of Wally.
"The dog wasn't hurt too bad. He didn't suffer pain afterward, but that doesn't change the fact he abused the dog," said Jared Daeffler, animal control officer. "The dog is very friendly, probably very adoptable, if we do get [permanent] custody of him."