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By Kern County Department of Public Health Services
By The Bakersfield Californian
By LOIS HENRY
Californian staff writer
Outrage and horror followed news that a Bakersfield man allegedly brutalized a 7-pound dog by hitting her in the mouth with a golf club and spraying bleach in her eyes.
Robert Gonzales, 43, was arrested Dec. 4 after Bakersfield Police officers received a report of animal cruelty. The dog, Lacey, was found tied to a tree.
Gonzales, who has a prior restraining order against him, was booked on felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prohibited weapon, according to Bakersfield police.
He was also charged with animal cruelty under Penal Code section 597(b), which can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony.
Gonzales has since bailed out of jail, according to his neighbor who is also the mother of his former girlfriend with whom he has children.
The neighbor said her daughter left Gonzales two years ago but he remained in the home.
Records show the former girlfriend obtained a domestic violence restraining order against Gonzales in October 2009. It remains in force until November 2012.
Gonzales has had Lacey at least two years, said the neighbor. She said Lacey was a very good dog.
"She wouldn't even leave his yard if she was out front by herself."
Lacey was brought to Coffee Road Animal Hospital for surgery on her left eye, which had ruptured. Dr. Julie Mischke said the surgery went well but they won't know if she will regain sight in that eye for several weeks.
They were able to save her right ear, which hospital staff thought the might have to be amputated as it was also severely burned.
The hospital has been overwhelmed with donations to aid in Lacey's treatment from Kern County and around the country.
Lacey, who Mishke described as very sweet -- "She just wants to curl up in your lap. As much pain as she has suffered she's never once offered to bite" -- is now living with a foster family.
Anger over Lacey's torture has been extreme.
The Californian had to shut down comments on its online story Saturday morning as some people went so far as to call for vigilante justice and listed Gonzales' address, a description of his vehicle and even named his children.
While disgust and anger are understandable when faced with this kind of senseless violence against such a helpless creature, Judi Daunelle, president of Friends of the Kern County Animal Control Foundation, on Saturday urged calm.
What's needed now is for people to channel that emotion into making sure the Kern County District Attorney's office follows up to the fullest extent of the law, Daunell said.
She reminded readers that prosecutors charged James D. Worley with two felony counts of animal cruelty for hogtying and leaving a pit bull to die in a Lamont field last April after Friends circulated a petition asking for maximum prosecution.
"We ultimately had thousands of signatures and that made a difference," Daunell said.
Worley pleaded no contest to a felony charge of animal cruelty. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail and allowed to apply for work release. National and international outrage followed that case as well.
The pit bull, named England, was adopted by a rescue organization founded by actress Katherine Heigl.