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Schenectady man accused of beating dog

SCHENECTADY -- The son of a woman in jail accused of beating her grandson to death is facing serious charges himself.  Investigators say he abused his dog.

A witness claims that man, DC Dunkel, hit the dog on two separate occasions.  Once Dunkel may have used a shovel, though investigators now say it's likely punching and kicking.

The SPCA calls his actions "depraved and sadistic."  Dunkel has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty.  Dunkel claims he was disciplining his dog, and that his family remains under the microscope for the wrong reason.

"I don't abuse my dog he's a family dog," Dunkel said.  "I have pictures to prove it."

Nevertheless, Dunkel's dog is in another house now -- in the care of an SPCA volunteer.

"One of the first things we did was bring it to get vet care," said David Dean, Schenectady County SPCA.  "Sadly the vet found some broken teeth in the animal's mouth and we believe that could be related to abuse."

Dunkel didn't think his discipline was criminal.  "I hit him one time on the side of my house because he ripped the cable wires and he ate my brand new pool pump," he said.

A kick and a punch now investigated by the SPCA and the District Attorney after a neighbor across the street tipped them off.

"He kicked the dog just like a football," said Gaston Hooks.  "I got it all on tape.  That's abuse.  That's definitely abuse."

Dunkel is now caring for his siblings after his mother, Gloria Nelligan, went to jail -- she's accused of beating her grandchild to death.  Nelligan's son says he took the dog in, off the street and out of the snow, around the same time his mother got in trouble.

"Me and my family are a normal family," Dunkel said.  "We're doing what we're supposed to do.  My sisters are in school right now, they're all on the honor roll."

Both the accused and the accuser are not strangers to police.  Dunkel faces a felony charge for punching out Hooks' van window.  That's the neighbor who turned him in for the alleged abuse, and Hooks was convicted for perjury and tampering with evidence some years ago.

Hooks' tape is being reviewed by the District Attorney.