Man Bites Dog Named ‘Cujo,’ (Jail Time Likely)

On Tuesday, jurors found 37 year old David Etzel of Palm Beach County guilty of animal cruelty, which carries the possibility of a year or more in jail.

What did he do to his poor pet? Well… he bit his mother’s dog.

The Palm Beach Post reported that Etzel, who is 375 pounds and 6 feet 8 inches tall, was convicted of taking his mother’s small Shih Tzu dog and squeezing and biting it so hard that he popped one of the dog’s eyes out of its socket. Sheesh!

Prosecutors alleged that Etzel, who lives in Lake Worth, FL, was drinking and teasing his mother’s dog, Cujo, and even egging on the dog to bite him. Once the dog did, Etzel’s mother reports that the man bit back and squeezed the Shih Tzu hard.

Etzel’s mother says that her son suffers from problems with anger management and alcoholism, which may explain the extreme behavior he exhibited that day.

According to the veterinarians who treated Cujo, injuries as severe as those the dog experienced are typically only seen after they have been hit by cars or attacked by other dogs, the Palm Beach Post reported. While vets managed to put Cujo’s eye back in its socket, the poor dog was permanently blinded in that eye.

Etzel was found guilty within a half an hour of jury deliberations.

Following the verdict, Michele, Etzel’s mother, notes that his conviction was a welcome one. “I’m happy he was held accountable for what he did to my dog… My son needs alcohol treatment, and he needs anger management treatment.” The Post reports that Cujo is still under the ownership of Michele Etzel.

While this story is extreme, the idea of it happening is a familiar one to journalists, as the phrase “man bites dog” is an aphorism used in classic journalism parlance to refer to a subversion of a normal event (“dog bites man”), which is typically what makes such unusual things news.

However, despite its hypothetical nature, many cases of “man bites dog” have been found all over the place in the news of late. A man in Oregon bit his dogs ears “to assert dominance” in Beaverton early this year. Meanwhile, British police last December searched for a man who had bit into a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Gloucester, Furthermore, Cambridge, England was treated to this incredible story recently – a man high on various drugs bit a dog while fighting with an owner outside of a One Stop Shop, shortly before dying of mysterious circumstances.

The craziness of the “man bites dog” phrase is familiar to many, but with its frequent reporting in actual news stories of late, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the principle of the thing. If “dog bites man” isn’t news, but “man bites dog” is, maybe it’s happening often enough now that it will cease to become news? It’s a terrifying prospect to consider on both sides of the equation – I’m sure poor Cujo wishes it wasn’t as common as it is now.