DEARBORN COUNTY, IN (FOX19) - A man is facing animal cruelty charges in Dearborn County after he was accused of beating and punching a dog excessively.
Police believe Steven Hardebeck, 58, and two other men were in a pick-up truck that had an open trailer attached when they stopped Dec. 18 near the Greendale Cemetery.
A witness said she noticed a dog was on a very short chain attached to the back of the trailer. She said the dog looked terrified. The witness reported that she saw Hardebeck get out of the truck and shove the dog, named "Bubby," into a cage.
"The dog was already bloody, so he had already been through who knows what," said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous to protect herself while the case unfolds in court.
What happened next is something the witness said still haunts her.
"He decided he wanted to beat the dog in the face with his fists," the woman said. "When he started throwing punches, that's when my hand just grabbed the phone."
While the woman was calling 911, she said the dog took off towards the cemetery, and the men drove off. Police responded to the scene minutes later.
"There was blood on the ground," said Jeffery Lane, Assistant Chief of Greendale Police. "The dog was bleeding pretty heavily from the mouth area. He was very scared. It took us a while to corral him."
Bubby was taken to animal control where officials say he is now recovering. The trauma to his mouth, according to authorities, was so severe that he had several teeth knocked out and had to have an emergency surgery. Animal control officials said that he is doing better now and is on medication.
As for Hardebeck, he is facing animal cruelty charges.
"We don't tolerate any of that, and we won't tolerate it anywhere in Dearborn County," Lane said.
Animal control officials also took two other dogs from Hardebeck. Officials said that they were in wire cages in the trailer with Bubby that day and were exposed to freezing temperatures.
If Hardebeck is convicted, officials hope to adopt the dogs out into new homes. He will be back in court January 23.