July 22, 2020
A Houston man with a history of violence was sentenced to three years in prison for hitting and choking a dog, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday.
“Prosecutors who specialize in animal cruelty work hard to get justice for those who might not have a say in our system,” Ogg said. “Pets are family. They are protected under the law. We want to hold abusers accountable.”
Michael Wayne Johnson, 48, was arrested in October after witnesses saw Johnson lift dog off the ground by placing both hands around the dog’s neck and choking the animal. They then saw Johnson repeatedly punch the dog in the face.
The dog, a Corgi-Australian shepherd mixed-breed, was known as “Old Man.”
He survived and was taken into custody by BARC animal shelter and was placed in a rescue program for adoption last year.
Johnson pleaded guilty in April to cruelty to a non-livestock animal and asked to be sentenced by a judge. He faced the possible punishment from probation to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors argued for prison time and 184th state District Judge Abigail Anastasio sentenced Johnson to prison for three years.
Johnson’s criminal record includes a prior conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in which he was sentenced in 2006 to two years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Jessica Milligan, who handled the case and is the chief of the Animal Cruelty Unit at the DA’s Office, applauded the witnesses who called Houston Police to report Johnson.
“It is critical that people who observe neglect or intentional abuse against animals report what they see, otherwise, animals have no voice,” Milligan said. “We are grateful for the witnesses who reported the violence against this dog, as they likely saved his life.”
The Harris County District Attorney Office is a member of the Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force and encourages reporting animal cruelty by calling 832-927-PAWS or visiting https://927paws.org/.