Harker Heights man who ‘defended’ himself with machete during alleged pit bull attack indicted on animal cruelty charges

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Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 3:53 PM CDT
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HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas (KWTX) - A Harker Heights man has been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly striking his pit bull mixes with a machete in what he calls an act of self defense, an arrest affidavit obtained by KWTX reveals.

James Ray Sandel, 31, was recently indicted on two counts of cruelty to a non-livestock animal: kill/poison/serious bodily injury for an incident on March 18, 2022.

According to the affidavit obtained by KWTX, Harker Heights Police Department officers were called to a residence at 608 Citation Loop to investigate reports of a dog bite.

Sandel’s wife called police to report her husband was trying to break up a fight involving their two pit bulls when he was bit and attacked. While Sandel was taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment for a dog bite, police officers arrived at the couple’s residence and found a slain dog, and another that had been critically wounded, in the backyard, the affidavit states.

One of the dogs, identified in the document as Aries, was found dead with a “large cut on its back in front of its shoulder to its spine,” the document states.

The other dog, identified as Artemis, was still alive but suffering from brutal injuries. “Artemis was left to die in the backyard with multiple wounds to her front paws, her front right leg arm pit area, and her skull,” the court document states.

“The wound to her 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 states, “Artemis had to be humanely euthanized by authorities.”

During his interview with detectives, Sandel said he was clearing trees with a machete at night when the dogs started fighting over a toy. The man said he was “bit by Aries on the left hand and then struck Aries with a machete in the neck” and “he knew Aries was dead,” the affidavit states.

Sandel then allegedly admitted he “struck Artemis several times because she tried to bite his shirt,” the document reveals.

Investigators said their timeline of events indicates that “there was approximately an hour-and-a-half where neither Sandel or his wife attempted to provide care or medical attention for either Aries and Artemis.”

“Both dogs were left to die” in the backyard, investigators claim in the affidavit.

The Killeen Daily Herald on Sept. 18 reported Sandel posted a $20,000 bond to get out of the Harker Heights jail.

The bite wound on Sandel hand was a one centimeter laceration that required three stitches, the arrest affidavit claims.