A Bloomington man who was arrested in September on suspicion of bludgeoning a dog with a baseball bat has been formally charged.
Edward Michael Scullion Jr., 27, is charged in Dakota County with two gross misdemeanors: overwork, mistreat or torture animals and overwork or mistreat animals to further an act of cruelty. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
An Eagan police officer was on patrol just after 12:30 a.m. Sept. 27 when he spotted a car parked in the lot at Casperson Landing, beneath the Cedar Avenue bridge on the Eagan-Burnsville border, according to the criminal complaint.
The officer found Scullion standing beside the car, and asked him for identification. Scullion told the officer that he was there looking for his wallet, which he thought he had lost earlier in the day.
However, the officer thought Scullion was acting suspicious, the complaint says. When he heard something moving in the woods behind his squad car, the officer investigated and found a black Labrador retriever lying on its stomach, with a wooden baseball bat on the ground about 6 feet away.
The dog had suffered a “significant” head wound and was bleeding from its nose, the complaint says.
The officer questioned Scullion, who initially said he didn’t know anything about the dog, but later admitted that the dog belonged to him and he had tried to kill it by hitting it on the head with the baseball bat, according to the complaint.
Police found a current license for the dog, identified as Optimus Prime, and Scullion was listed as his owner. Officers took the dog to an emergency veterinary clinic and then to Pilot Knob Animal Hospital in Eagan.
Police taped an interview with Scullion later that day at the Eagan police station. He told officers that he had owned Optimus Prime for about three years, and that he had an 18-month-old daughter.
About two months earlier, Scullion told police, his daughter was playing with Optimus when she began to cry. Scullion said he saw two small, superficial cuts on his daughter’s nose, and he thought that Optimus had bit her, according to the complaint.
Since that incident, Scullion told police, he “struggled” with what to do with the dog. He said he had been home alone the night before and decided that it was his responsibility to take care of “the problem,” the complaint says.
Scullion said he had looked into turning the dog over to the Humane Society to have him put to sleep, but he thought that it was something he should do, according to the complaint.
Scullion said he drove Optimus to the park because he thought it would be a secluded location. He hit the dog once on the head with the baseball bat, and the dog yelped, lay down in the weeds and looked at him, according to the complaint.
Scullion said he thought hitting the dog once would kill him. When the dog didn’t die, he said, he backed away toward his car, which is when the officer found him, the complaint says.
A veterinarian at Pilot Knob Animal Hospital told police that the blow to the dog’s head left a 2- to 3-inch swollen “goose egg” injury, resulting in significant pain and temporary but substantial disfigurement.
The dog also suffered a cut on his head from the impact. The veterinarian told police that the impact caused bleeding and pain in Optimus’ mouth and nose, and that the dog had blood in his urine.
The city of Eagan incurred more than $715 in costs to pay for the dog’s care and treatment.
After Optimus was restored to health, he was taken in by Secondhand Hounds, an Edina-based dog rescue group, which renamed him Tippy and put him in a foster home until he was in good enough condition to be adopted.
Scullion, who was arrested after police found him with the dog, has been released from custody. He is scheduled to make a first appearance on the charges Dec. 10 in Dakota County District Court in Hastings.