ATLANTA - An Atlanta man whose video of him scaring his dog with fireworks sparked outrage among animal lovers pleaded no contest to animal cruelty Tuesday.
Fulton County Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frazier accepted the nolo contendere plea of William Scaffidi during a Tuesday afternoon hearing.
Under the agreement, Scaffidi will be under probation for a month until he pays a $500.
He could have faced 60 days in jail and been ordered to surrender ownership of the dog.
Fulton County Animal Control officers charged Scaffidi with animal cruelty in early July, after the video of the incident went viral.
During the Tuesday hearing, an animal control officer testified he had received hundreds of e-mails from people upset about the video.
The video from July 4th shows Scaffidi lighting fireworks near his dog on his front porch in northeast Atlanta, and then go inside and close the door.
Fulton County Field Services Director Tim Poorman said the fireworks scared the dog, causing the Pyrenees husky mix to run to the other side of the porch, where another set of fireworks went off.
“A lot of us spent the 4th of July weekend at home comforting our own dogs from people shooting off fireworks and this guy was doing it deliberately to see if he could scare his dog,” said Poorman.
Poorman said when he went to the pet owner’s home after the video became public, Scaffidi admitted what he did.
“I have seen some pretty horrendous things in this job in my years doing it and this was quite possibly the most, I can't put into words, the most egregious thing I have seen the most deliberate thing to scare an animal,” said Poorman.
At the hearing, Judge Frazier told Scaffidi he used “incredible poor judgment” in the incident. The judge also said since Scaffidi did not have a previous record, he trusted he would never see the defendant in his courtroom again.
The prosecutor told the judge the dog remains in Scaffidi’s possession and did not suffer any physical injuries.
An animal rights advocate who attended the hearing told News Radio 106.7’s Christy Hutchings she was disappointed in the plea deal.
After the hearing, Scaffidi said he regrets the incident.