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Posted on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 5:20 p.m.

Ypsilanti man charged with beating puppy with tire iron

By Lee Higgins

An Ypsilanti man has been charged with severely beating a 5-month-old puppy with a tire iron last week, then dumping the dog on the side of the road, Ypsilanti police said.

Brownie Photo.jpg

Eric Jason Rutley is charged with felony animal torture, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder and manufacturing marijuana, authorities said.

Rutley, who was arrested Friday, is at Washtenaw County Jail on $100,000 bond, said Ypsilanti police Sgt. Thomas Eberts.

Rutley also is accused of choking his girlfriend. In addition, officers say they found at least 10 marijuana plants last week in his Bell Street home.

The puppy, “Brownie,” an Australian Shepherd, was found Thursday morning and was unable to walk, a Humane Society of Huron Valley news release said.

Some of her teeth had been knocked out, and the dog had fractures to its legs, the release said. Humane Society officials said it's possible the dog may need to have a leg amputated.

A woman walking her dog in a park near Ford Lake found Brownie near a garbage can and turned the pup over to Humane Society officials, Eberts said.

Humane Society officials are working to raise thousands of dollars they say it will take to provide surgery and follow-up care for the dog.

HSHV has a fund established to care for animals that need specialized medical care, the release said.

Anyone who wants to donate to the "Furry Godmother Fund" to help Brownie can visit or call (734) 661-3525.

  • No - I think the laws need to be tougher.
  • Yes - I believe the punishment Michigan has fits the crime.



Tue, Dec 22, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

it is disturbing that this animal endured such pain and mistreatment. it is a pleasure to see her cared for, treated for her wounds... may she find a home where she can heal and be loved and in turn bring joy where there was pain. it is equally disturbing that so many readers respond with wishes for retaliation. those who commit such acts as this come from a place of shame, fear and anger. i've not known, or known of anyone who rises above their circumstances by being beaten with tire irons, or ridicule, or any such treatment. those who go beyond unfortunate conditions of birth or poor treatment or lamentable choices, do so with the help of good teachers--be they human, books, or other blessings that cross their paths and give them the boost to a level of integrity--even if it means bottoming out in order to choose a different path. my wish for this man, who harmed the woman in his life and the forlorn animal we see in the photo, all bandaged and scared, is that his own broken self finds the means to heal, that he finds worth in his life and being, and that he is blessed with his equivalent of surgeries and bandages and influences and ways to find his path for doing good and repairing damage, both done to others and to himself. as for spending so much on one animal... who is to say how deeply this act of compassion may touch those giving her care, those hearing her story, those connected in other ways. who is to say what this dog's life will mean. vs. ending it. perhaps it is true that there are no mistakes, all happens for a reason, all connected. we can only suspend judgement and see what shows up.


Mon, Sep 7, 2009 : 11:13 p.m.

This person should have to pay for what he has done. Beating a dog can be just as bad as beating a person.


Mon, Sep 7, 2009 : 11:12 p.m.

This person should have to pay for what he has done you.. Beating a dog can be just as bad as beating a person.


Fri, Sep 4, 2009 : 5:26 p.m.

Do we all know that is a greater crime to injure and innocent animal than it is to molest an innocent child in the State of Michigan. Well, at least in Ann Arbor that is the rule. My heart goes out for both. It is disgusting to have the Judges we have here. A real eyesore. Both a child who has been molested and the molester gets a slap on the wrist to continue to do their dirty work. Why can't a molesters sentence be the same as an Animal Abuser? Aren't both being abused and both lives ruined? I guess one will have to investigate the cases of Melinda Morris, Archibald Brown and Donald Shelton to see this and then have it properly reported. Both are disgusting and need to be shown the public the truth about these Judges and I use that term loosely for those three!


Fri, Sep 4, 2009 : 9:45 a.m.

What happened to this puppy is just horrible! I join the many community members and the HSHV in the sadness and outrage for the abuse of the puppy and her female owner. Referencing the blog post from the HSHV Executive Director Tanya Hilgendorf, there is a connection of animal abuse and domestic violenceand sadly Brownie was abused because of an assailants desire to control his partner. As the Executive Director of SafeHouse Center (, I am proud that we have the partnership with HSHV and wish for Brownies speedy recovery.


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 11:43 a.m.

I'm devastated by this story. I just don't understand what would cause this man to do this. I can't stop crying and will make a donation to the HVHS right away.


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 10:35 a.m.

Here's an excerpt from the earlier coverage of the story. "The man's girlfriend told police she returned to the Bell Street home Wednesday to find her 9-month-old dog with broken legs, its teeth knocked out and face swollen, a police incident log said. The woman also told police her boyfriend had choked her and ripped her clothing Monday, the log said. Officers conducted a search warrant at the home and found 10 to 15 marijuana plants..."


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 9:54 a.m.

If I read the original story correctly, it was the girlfriend's dog. I think that's why he did it; to get back at her. It's a pattern of really sick, abusive behavior all around.


Thu, Sep 3, 2009 : 9:18 a.m.

I hope this guy goes away for a very long time just for attacking his girlfriend. As for attacking a poor defenseless animalin the manor that he did the punshment could not be tough enough. If more people spayed and neutered their cats and dogs their would less animals at shelters needing homes.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:52 p.m.

I hear there are a few spots left open for the Philadelphia Eagles Football Team, maybe after Eric Rutley gets out of jail he can join up with Micheal Vick in the city of Brotherly Love. I hope the dog recovers, but it make you wonder who the real animals are.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:51 p.m.

Jer and truthseeker, please do all of the reasonable people in the area a favor, and move to a foreign land, preferably one where you will be treated as "Brownie" was, becuse your compassion for an innocent being is non-exisistant, Jer, you could never bring as much joy into someones life as this puppy will, you should be ashamed of yourself, I'm sure you are a massive problem to your family and friends with that lousy attitude.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 5:56 p.m.

YpSiFoLk, I volunteer at this Humane Society and they are the type of shelter that tries to help every animal as much as possible. There are enough people that will read this story and donate so that the cost will be offset. As far as the space issue goes, this "death panel" is not real. At least, not at THIS shelter. Euthanasia only happens when the dog has major behavior issues or is too badly hurt or ill ("not adoptable" as we say), but limited space is not a problem (even thought it IS limited) and neither is how long a dog has spent there. We are lucky enough to have volunteer "foster families," for the animals that need to rest from the more major surgeries, others to be taught manners/housetraining, for animals that need a break from the shelter, or for lack of space at the shelter. We've had dogs stay for months and months before someone takes them home. I assume that after Brownie has her surgeries, she will go to one of these to recoup. Then back to the shelter to be adopted (if she isn't spoken for already). I understand your point and would probably agree if this were a different shelter. Luckily it's not :)


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 5:05 p.m.

I am sickened by this story and many others just like it along with some of the comments I've read. This is why I love animals more than people.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 4:03 p.m.

people who are cruel to defenseless animals who gine unconditional love should be freated as common, hardened criminals, maybe given same punishment as they give animals fabfan


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 1:13 p.m.

Let's be objective here. First of all, the man is innocent until proven guilty, so let's not jump to any conclusions that may be generated by the way someone is preying upon your emotions. Second, maybe the dog turned out to be a biter and it bit his 2-year old little girl for no reason, and instead of killing the dog he simply gave the dog a little punishment and then let it live by dumping it on the side of the road. You never know, in fact let's all join together in our insanity and assume that the dog is the guilty party in this case, after all, relativism is a right in Ann Arbor isn't it?

Pete Bigelow

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 1:10 p.m.

A comment has been removed from this thread because it was off-topic. To comment on our comment and moderation policies, please go here:


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 12:08 p.m.

I disagree with LisaJ that the man should be euthanized. Beating and euthanizing a puppy is also pretty awful, but the injustice of it does not even compare to that of killing a human. A dog is not a human. Also it is important to note that this man was also a victim. He was at some point in his life tricked into inhaling the mind clouding and addictive fumes of the marijuana plant. His pot addiction was probably one of the main factors that influenced him to behave as he did. What the man needs is a good drug rehabilitation program.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 12:05 p.m.

People are so dumb. Why not just give the dog to a shelter? You got weed at the crib and you choked up yo' girl? EPIC FAIL.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 11:47 a.m.

Euthanize the man, save the dog! It will cost society (i.e. all of us) a lot more than a few thousand dollars over HIS lifetime in the penal system and the courts. He's a drug dealer and an abuser, while the dog has done nothing wrong. In fact, saving the dog will likely expand awareness of the growing societal problem of animal abuse--which is a proven predictor of human abuse, as we have seen with Mr. Rutley. The dog will likely live on to enrich someone's family life beyond measure. Already, it has brought in money to the HSHV. And speaking of money, Rutley should be made to pay for the rehab care--for both his girlfriend and the dog!

Matt Van Auker

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:22 a.m.

First of all, I would definitely keep him alive, at any cost. Secondly, it would be good to get a description and photo.

Theresa Taylor

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:13 a.m.

I am so thankful that the authorities were able to catch this sick individual. I hope that Brownie recevies another chance and finds a loving home. This is a sad story that deserves a fantastic ending.

UM Rocks

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8:01 a.m.

We have adopted 3 of our 4 dogs from the HSHV (the 4th from another rescue organization). The HSHV does wonderful things and is my "charity of choice." I have faith that this puppy will be well cared for and will find a loving, life-long home. I hope the alleged perpetrator burns in hell.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 8 a.m.

Some humans value life, even non-human life. To these people, economics is meaningless compared to a living creature,. These are also the kind of people that tend to sacrifice what they can for their human and their furry friends. They are also the kind of people that have taken animals out of kill shelters to give them more time to find a permanent home, and to make room for other animals. Humans that can show compassion and sacrifice are truly human (and so very rare now a days), those that can justify ending any form of life simply because of the value of money and what it can buy instead have lost a bit of their own humanity. Life is not an economic formula! If it was, then simple math would show that letting most humans multiply simply makes no economic sense! Do your share to help, go to, plug in your zip code, and find the animal rescue nearest you to volunteer your $, time, or pet foster home to. You can save a furry life with little effort!


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:55 a.m.

Thank you ShermanNC for stating what everyone else apparently is missing. What about charges for choking the girlfriend? This story seems incomplete.

old east sider

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:48 a.m.

Thank you for such an informative statement about Brownie and The Humane Society. We are so fortunate to have a facility like this near us to help people and animals, and such sensitive and caring staff and volunteers. I am writing still another check to support this institution today and hope that many others will join me. Our lives are enriched each day by 9 rescue animals. God bless Brownie and the poor woman who was also beaten.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:45 a.m.

Many of us out here would be willing to spend thousands on our animals. Realizing of course, there does come a time when euthanasia is probably the better choice. Come on, if this dog can be mended and does not appear to be in debilitating pain there is no reason this puppy shouldn't be treated and adopted. Yes, the Humane Society does have a euthanasia policy unlike the ASPCA which is a no kill organization. I hope they really throw the book at this guy but something tells me they will end up only trying him on the more serious of his many charges, which will not include the animal abuse.

Bob Mossing

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:39 a.m.

Every dog that is alive today deserves a chance to live - especially this dog.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:36 a.m.

Tanya thank you for further clarifying the story for the readers. I am proud to live in a city where our four legged friends are cared for so well by HSHV. Both of the warm bodies sitting on my feet at this very moment were lovingly chosen from your facility. Your vets and staff are top notch and have been with my family through everything from adoption to end of life issues. Thank you for fighting the good fight, for this sweet little puppy, who has had a rough start to her life.

Tanya Hilgendorf

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:19 a.m.

While I understand this last point, many assumptions about the Humane Society of Huron Valley are often made that are incorrect. Here are some important facts 1)The Humane Society of Huron Valley has one of the highest save rates of any open admissions shelter in this country. We do NOT euthanize dogs simply for lack of space. Dogs that are healthy or have treatable conditions go up for adoption and stay there until someone brings them into their family. We have this success because of the many people in our area who are dedicated to adopting; because of hard working and talented volunteers and staff who keep our animals happy and healthy while they stay with us; and because of our generous donors who allow us to invest in their needed care. 2)Thanks to the success of spay/neutering our particular area of the country does not suffer an unmanagable excess of dogs. (Pitbulls are a very sad exception, as are our feline friends. Neither are spay/neutered at the rate needed to match adoption rates, but we do have a successful pitbull adoption program and an exceptional save rate for cats given the situation). 3)If this sweet girl does not deserve a second chance, I dont know who does. She is a completely helpless and innocent 9 month old puppy allegedly beaten with a tire iron by a man (recently paroled for rape and assault) who was mad at his girlfriend for coming home late and decided that hurting her dog and then her was just punishment. (70% of battered woman report that their assailant hurt or killed a family pet.) The dog was then left for dead on the side of the road. Fortunately a kind person reported her to the HSHV Rescue Line and we picked her up and started her care before we knew of her connection to this case. We have a talented orthopedic surgeon who is planning her treatment. With the right surgery this pup will live the long and happy life she deserves.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:17 a.m.

Hello - Anyone notice the correlation between beating the puppy and choking his girlfriend? This man needs to serve time for both offenses, perhaps with some roommates who will exhibit the same disgusting behavior!


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 7:14 a.m.

ypsifolk, the money used for these surgeries are donations & state money that is allotted for the use in animal care. I am sure the HSHV has already had requests to adopt this dog, so for the most part the rehabilitation will been done by the new owner. I made a donation, as I'm sure many who read the story did; this ofsets the cost of care a great deal. As a matter of fact they did "push the dogs with the biggest health issues (ie most expensive to care for) to the top of the list"...the list of those in need of care, not euthanized. Being beaten was no fault of this dog; it deserves this care.


Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 3:46 a.m.

"I think, if convicted he should be made to sit naked with ground beef covering his body while 20 pit bulls who haven't eaten in a few days goes to town. If he wants to show what a man he is against dogs, lets do it. The fact he hits dogs and women shows he is a danger to society and should be held without bail" Johnnya2 i would like to quote you here I agree with the last sentence but as for the 20 pit bull part i find it quite ofensive I have been rasing and breed(responsibaly)pitbull terriers for over twenty five years and feeding any dog raw meat is a no no. this statement only makes the masses think pit bulls are of a mean nature totaly false they are loving faitful companions if raised properly. As for the topic at hand Nothing should be treated that way and I believe in an eye for an eye. Sad thing is with wash away the way it is he'll prolly get probation and a fine if he has any money or if he has a paid attorney. If he uses legal aid he'll prolly get prison time. So are we sopposed to euphanize him aswell or rehabilate him? To cause someone to flip out and do something this horrid there has to have mental problems along with a drug addiction should we just kill all addicts,drunks, and mentaly ill people because they don't have insurance while we're at it?

Paul Taylor

Wed, Sep 2, 2009 : 12:33 a.m.

Careful, johnnya2, don't want to tempt the moderators with such uncivil talk of hypothetical painful punishments.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 10:35 p.m.

This story makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. I am happy that I donated to HSHV just yesterday before even hearing about this story. I suggest that if anyone has a graduation, wedding, birthday, holiday, suggest 'in lieu of' gifts to your guests. Many of us have everything we need/want. Instead of getting a boring gift that you may not like so much, you can raise money for a special cause such as HSHV. You will feel so good when you walk in to HSHV and have a good amount of money to give to such wonderful people doing amazing things for our furry friends.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 9:31 p.m.

AJACK, I was just about to reply to YpSiFoLk, but you took the words right out of my mouth. :) And Faroh, thank you so much for donating to the HSHV. I am moved to do the same.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 8:56 p.m.

Yes, before you judge, spend some time at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. I am a dog walker. There are no "death panels" at the HSHV. Yes, dogs do get euthanized due to a number of factors, including behavioral problems and aggression (bite cases). It is not humane to refuse medical treatment when, in doing so, the animal has a good chance of making it through and becoming an adoptable dog. This dog clearly has a bright future. And, focus shouldn't be to "save money" when it comes to responding to a dog that had a human being so cruelly inflict injury upon it. The reasoning that supports euthanizing animals that require high-cost treatment is faulty and unethical. Just substitute "animals" with "humans" and see where that gets you my friend.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 8:34 p.m.

Apologies for my typo; I meant the HSHV*. :)


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 8:30 p.m.

This heartbreaking story inspired me to take the time to make a donation to the HVHS. Here's to hoping it inspires others to donate what they can, whether to help Brownie, or any other animal in a similar situation.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 7:18 p.m.

A2Writer - I would argue that they should gently euthanize this poor dog to alleviate its pain. If it's not this dog, it's another dog. How do you weigh the lives of animals? What makes this dog any more worthy of living than the dog that won't make it?


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 7:10 p.m.

This story sickens me beyond words. To YpSiFoLk and others questioning HSHV's decision to spend money to alleviate this poor puppy's suffering - I would gently suggest you spend some time volunteering with HSHV. I have, and as a result have great faith in their judgment as to when follow up care is appropriate and when other options are more humane. To those who are as disgusted by this cruel act as I am - please considering donating a portion of your time or resources to HSHV as well as lobbying for stricter animal cruelty laws. You won't regret it.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 7 p.m.

I have a solution fix the dog and give it a good home. Put Mr. Rutley with the animals and leave him there.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:55 p.m.

I'm with uawisok. Make him pay all costs!


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:45 p.m.

tater - you're missing the point. It is a zero sum game. A certain number of dogs will become adopted. A certain number will be killed each year. Simple economics (and for the record, this dog will be spared because he made the news, he'll be adopted as soon as he can leave the vet). But the point is that if x amount of dogs are going to be killed, and y amount of dogs are going to be adopted, why not kill the dogs that face the most challenges. Let's face it - no dogs deserve to be killed, and the whole thing is a shame. But it is completely rational to save significant amounts of money by keeping the healthy dogs alive and killing the sick and injured dogs. They're going to kill dogs anyway you look at it.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:23 p.m.

I'm all for giving the dog medical care. If he lives and won't suffer so much that it makes no sense to keep him alive, hopefully they will find him a great home. Would you want someone deciding to euthanize you because you had been beaten to a pulp and couldn't afford medical care?

Chrysta Cherrie

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 6:10 p.m.

Paul, I removed your more recent comment because it was related to comment moderation and not this story. Also, to clarify, posts that have been removed are unpublished from the live site but not completely purged from the server.

Chrysta Cherrie

Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 5:32 p.m.

Though the content of this story is difficult to digest, some comments were removed because the discussion was not civil. For more information/discussion about our comment moderation policy, go here.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 5:16 p.m.

How tragic that this beautiful, trusting puppy had to endure this type of treatment. If found guilty, I hope the punishment equals the crime.


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 4:50 p.m.

This one of the many reasons human behavior is so disappointing. Honestly what would posses someone to do something so cruel to something so undeserving? Can we do the same to him?


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 4:46 p.m.

Kudo's Dave Fitz...great comment....I think the person who is suspected if successfully prosectuted should pay back the Hiumane Society for any money spent on "Brownie" sad to beat a dog,animal or person with a tire iron!!


Tue, Sep 1, 2009 : 4:31 p.m.

Please don't interpret this the wrong way... But does it really make sense to spend thousands of dollars to rehabilitate this dog? My guess is that the Humane Society already has a "death panel" where dogs are being put down because of the lack of demand/oversupply. So wouldn't it make sense to push the dogs with the biggest health issues (ie most expensive to care for) to the top of the list? If they adapted this philosophy, it wouldn't impact the number of dogs they have to put down every year. But it surely could save them a lot of money along the way.