Texas man who defended himself against pit bull attack indicted for 'animal cruelty'

Sandel was taken to the hospital with a laceration after using a machete to break up a fight between his dogs. One of the dogs was killed and the other was euthanized by police after arriving on the scene.


A 31-year-old Harker Heights, Texas man, James Ray Sandel, was indicted on animal cruelty charges after he killed his pet female pitbull Aries with a machete while trying to break up a dogfight between Aries and his other pet pitbull Artemis.

According to local KTRE News the arrest affidavit reads, "the wound to her (Aries') skull was so deep, officers could see inside her skull. Artemis’ two front legs were broken; the left front leg was almost completely severed."

The affidavit accounts for Harker Heights Police being called to a residence in the 600 block of Citation Loop on March 18, 2022 after a report that Sandel's wife had been bitten by a dog.

In the call to police, she said that her husband had tried to break up a dog fight between their two pet pitbulls which caused them to attack and bite him.

Sandel was promptly taken to a hospital with the non-life threatening injury of a one centimeter laceration. He was treated with three stitches.

As Sandal was at the hospital police investigated the residence and discovered Aries, dead, with a "large cut on its back in front of its shoulder to its spine."

Artemis was alive when police arrived but, according to the affidavit, she was "left to die in the backyard with multiple wounds to her front paws, her front right leg arm pit area, and her skull."

Artemis had to be "humanely euthanized by authorities."

According to local KDHnews, a full hour and a half passed between the incident and the call to authorities, where neither Sandel nor his wife "attempted to provide care or medical attention for either" of the animals.

In his police interview Sandel said that he was clearing trees with his machete when he saw the dogs begin to fight over a toy. When he tried to intervene, he was "bit by Aries on the left hand and then struck Aries with a machete in the neck."

Sandel admitted to police, according to local news, that he "struck Artemis several times" not because of the hand bite but "because she tried to bite his shirt." Sandel claimed he killed the dogs in self-defense.

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that a Bell County grand jury indicted Sandel on "two counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal, which is a third-degree felony."

Sandel's bond was set at $20,000 on September 18, which he posted.


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