A Columbia man who slapped his poodle so hard that it careened into a wall and died from the impact pleaded guilty to animal cruelty yesterday and was sentenced to 15 days in jail.
The behavior of Kharl E. Bocala, 28, was "unacceptable" and likely had a lasting impact on his two children, who lost a pet as a result, said Howard District Judge Neil Edward Axel. He imposed a 90-day sentence with all but 15 days suspended and a year of probation.
Bocala, of the 6400 block of Waveland Way, was home with his wife when he noticed a urine stain on the downstairs carpet, prosecutors said yesterday. He later told investigators that he picked up the year-old poodle, Trinket, and held its head over the stain before hitting it, prosecutors said. The force sent the 6-pound dog into a wall, leaving Trinket with hemorrhaging on its brain, behind its eyes and down its spine, said Assistant State's Attorney Amy Hott Somerville.
The doctor who performed a necropsy said Trinket's injuries were so severe that he suspected the animal had been thrown against the wall, but Bocala's lawyer said yesterday that his client admits only slapping the dog.
"What he did was an inappropriate type of discipline," Somerville said. "The treatment of Trinket was cruel and inhumane."
But Bocala's Rockville-based lawyer, Brian Yoklavich, told Axel that his client, who has degrees in business and computer science, "didn't act with malice" and is known as a "very gentle person."
He admits that "his actions caused the dog's death," Yoklavich said.
Bocala apologized for his actions.
"It's not in my character to do something like that," he said.
After the hearing, Ann Selnick, the president of Animal Advocates of Howard County, said she was "pleased" with Axel's sentence.
"It takes place all the time and, like the judge said, this gentleman was setting an example for his children," she said. "Our goal ... is to see that this violence stops."