Two former University at Buffalo football players have been charged with animal abuse after being accused of beating a dog with a belt after the animal damaged a couch one of the men owned.
Blake Hiligh, 19, and Zachary Pilarcek, 20, were arraigned in an Amherst Town Court on Thursday in connection with a June 14 incident in which a video allegedly shows the two participating in the beating of a 4-year-old male miniature poodle named “Kobe,” according to Fox News.
The two were arrested and charged with one count of overdriving, torturing, and injuring animals with a failure to provide proper sustenance after a police investigation into the allegations.
The pair were subsequently suspended, then dismissed from the team.
“The UB football program has zero tolerance for this type of behavior,” head coach Maurice Linguis said in a statement. “After learning about this incident, I immediately suspended the two young men from all team activities before permanently dismissing them from the program earlier this month. At UB, not only do we expect our student-athletes to excel on the field and in the classroom, but we also expect them to be outstanding citizens in our community.”
“In the video one man, Pilarcek, a native of Endicott, New York, is speaking off-camera about damage a dog did to a couch in a Sweet Home Road apartment he shares with the dog’s owner, Hiligh, a native of Maryland, and claims he will film the punishment the dog will receive,” SPCA Chief Communications Officer Gina Lattuca said in a statement.
Lattuca added that the video posted to Snapchat shows Hiligh yelling at the animal and hitting him with “a leather belt.” An anonymous tip led authorities to seek out the video and launch the investigation.
According to Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, the dog suffered minor injuries and has been removed from the home.
Flynn thanked the SPCA for its assistance in the case and praised the school, saying, “I also commend the University at Buffalo and the UB Football program for taking immediate action, which further demonstrates that animal abuse will not be tolerated in this community.”