A FAMILY in Cagayan de Oro is filing charges against a barangay tanod (village watchman) who it said beat and burned its pet dog.

Dan Gonzales, 24, went to the City Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday to file a complaint against Rodrigo Lopez, a barangay tanod in Bayanga.

Gonzales accused Lopez of killing the family dog, Hercules. He was advised to first secure incident reports from the barangay and the police station.

Hercules wandered out of the Gonzales’ yard on Friday. Gonzales said Lopez’s son later brought back the charred remains of the animal to the family.

Gonzales said Lopez’s son told him: “You should be thankful that your rabid dog was killed.”

He said his family learned that Hercules got into a fight with another dog, and strayed into Lopez’s property.

“Hercules entered into the Lopez house, bit the pig’s snout, that’s why he was beaten until he bled and burned while still alive,” Gonzales said.

“Hercules wasn’t a stray,” he added. “The tanod was even surprised upon learning that Hercules belonged to us.”

Gonzales said the family was saddened and upset by the dog’s death.

“We adopted Hercules from a relative in 2008. Hercules is an adorable dog. We always played and hugged him to show how much we loved and treasured him, even my younger sisters played with Hercules every day. He is family,” he said.

He said his father became very emotional on seeing Hercules’ gruesome condition. "Why did you have to do this? He is just a dog, he meant no harm. You could have just caged him, but instead you had beaten and burned him," the father said.

Dan checked Facebook for animal welfare groups to help their case and came across Cagayan de Oro Dogwalkers Club 2012 Inc., a nonprofit organization that looks into the welfare of dogs.

"We are looking for a pro-bono lawyer, at the same time we are working on our affidavits, so that we can finally file the case," said Wicx Alejandro of the Dog Walker's Club.

Gonzales brought the remains of Hercules to the Department of Agriculture for rabies testing. But the agency declined to do the procedure, saying the dog was already decomposing.

Reached for comment, a doctor at the City Veterinary Office handed Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro a brochure on what to do whenever dog bites and said: “We only treat dog bites and administer vaccines here.”

Cruelty to animals is punishable under Republic Act 8485, with a prison term ranging from one to two years and a fine of between P50,000 and P100,000, depending on whether the animal dies or survives.

Asked if his family will accept an amicable settlement, Gonzales said: “We miss Hercules and his playfulness. His barks when he sensed intruders. Dogs should be treated fairly. There is a law that protects them, we will seek for it. This is not for money, we just want justice for him.” (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro)