QUINCY, Mass. — A man accused of torturing and beating a dog that had to be euthanized after being found barely alive on a playground was ordered held Tuesday on $500,000 cash bail.
Radoslaw Czerkawski, a 32-year-old Polish man living in Massachusetts, pleaded not guilty in Quincy District Court to 11 counts of animal cruelty and one of misleading police.
The year-old female pit bull was nicknamed “Puppy Doe.” She was found Aug. 31 on a playground not far from a house where Czerkawski lived.
The case drew widespread attention after police appealed for public help in late September, and has led to calls for tougher penalties for animal abuse.
About two dozen people came to the courthouse Tuesday to show support for the abused dog.
Some cried when prosecutor Tracey Cusick detailed the dog’s injuries: several skull fractures in various stages of healing, spine and rib fractures, leg injuries, a stab wound to the right eye, two deep nose injuries and a split tongue.
Cusick said Czerkawski was traced through the dog’s previous owners, and DNA from blood stains linked the dog to the house. Czerkawski lived there as a paid caregiver for a 95-year-old Polish woman who died the day the dog was found.
District Attorney Michael Morrissey said the woman died from natural causes and there’s no evidence of foul play.
Judge Mark Coven ordered Czerkawski, arrested last week in New Britain, Conn., to surrender his passport. The prosecutor said he overstayed a tourist visa and would be a flight risk. Czernawski could face five years in prison for each animal abuse count.
Defense attorney John Gibbons asked that bail be reconsidered Nov. 21.
Lorelei Stathopolis of Salem told The Boston Globe it was difficult to hold back her emotions at Tuesday’s hearing. “We have to stand up and change the laws, and the only way to do it is to come here and make a stand,” she said.
Several people stood outside the courthouse with their own dogs. “She didn’t deserve what she got. We’re definitely here with our puppies to support her,” Kelly Duncan told WBZ-AM.
A bill that would create a statewide registry of individuals convicted of animal abuse and impose tougher penalties is gaining support in the Legislature.