A Fort Worth man who moved out of an apartment and left his dog, Tara, behind to starve to death, was sentenced Monday to one year in jail by a state district judge in Tarrant County.
Justin Rubio, 30, a former bartender, was taken from the courtroom right after he was sentenced by State District Judge David Hagerman. Rubio pleaded guilty in April to a felony charge of cruelty to an animal/torture. The charge is punishable by six months to two years in state jail.
He will be required to serve the full sentence, according to the Tarrant County district attorney’s office.
“There are no words that can accurately describe Tara’s suffering in that apartment,” prosecutor Kacey Fickes said in a statement. “This defendant was supposed to be the person who loved and protected her, and instead he left her to die. The true tragedy is that one phone call at any point could have spared Tara from a slow and agonizing death.”
Rubio was arrested in March 2016 after the manager at Monticello Crossroads Apartments, where he had lived, found Rubio’s dog dead on March 4. Rubio moved from the apartment weeks earlier, but left the pit bull mix unattended with no food or water, the Tarrant County district attorney’s office said.
Rubio admitted to driving to Oklahoma to party with friends during part of the time the dog was trapped in the apartment, said Sam Jordan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.
Jeff Jones, senior code compliance officer with Fort Worth who investigates animal cruelty calls, said he was pleased with the sentence because often times first offenders don’t go to jail.
“In my eyes, it was a big deal,” Jones said. Jones testified at the sentencing hearing Monday.
This article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.