ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - An Orangeburg man is the center of attention after videos showing him allegedly abusing his dog surfaces on Facebook.
The videos were brought to the attention of the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Department in October. Leviner was arrested on Oct. 13 and charged with ill treatment of animals.
According to the incident report, Leviner told deputies he beat the dog with a plastic baseball bat because the dog and his chain had been caught in the front bumper of his van and he was trying to set him free. Leviner also said it was "common for the dog to get tangled in the bumper" and that striking the dog hard enough would get him to move.
However, the report continues, deputies interviewed a neighbor who said he saw Leviner "violently strike" the dog with a wooden board and that she recorded the entire exchange on her iPad.
"The unit watched the video in question, and it clearly shows Mr. Leviner repeatedly using excessive, unnecessary force by striking the dog with a board that contained screws on both ends," the report said.
Leviner was placed under arrest and told deputies, "It's only a dog!" after he was put into a patrol car.
Orangeburg County Animal Control took Leviner's dogs. However, they were not given full custody, so Leviner had a chance to get them back after his criminal proceedings.
"There's a really high chance that this won't go in our favor," Amber Cuttino, a volunteer, said.
It pushed volunteer Cuttino to make a case for the dogs on Facebook. Videos uploaded to the page drew thousands of views. The page also garnered more than 6,000 likes and more than 123,000 people viewed the videos.
"People are outraged," Cuttino said. "It's sad. It's one of the most heartbreaking things you've ever seen and they just lay there because that's their owner and they love him."
Animal Control says the dogs are doing well.
"She's been as good as gold ever since I picked her up," Orangeburg Animal Control Officer Les Porter said.
Leviner has since released custody of his three dogs, Sasha, Max, and Montana, to the county. The dogs will be eligible for animal rescues to take them in and eventually be adopted.
Porter says that typically animal rescues like to get the dogs treated for any pre-existing conditions before adoption happens. Sasha, the dog seen in the videos, needs treatment for heartworms, so there is no exact timetable for when her transition will take place.
Porter tells us that several agencies have been interested in taking the dogs in.
Leviner's trial date is still pending, but his first appearance will take place on December 14th.
We did reach out to Leviner for comment on this case, but our calls were not returned. The fate of the dogs lies in the hands of the courts.
Leviner was released on a $5,000 surety bond.