A man who was filmed hitting his dog says his ‘life has been ruined’ after footage of the incident went viral and he received death threats on social media.
Josh Reynolds, 26, was captured on CCTV footage striking his pet dog Snoop in front of shocked onlookers in South Yorkshire before appearing to drag him away by his collar.
However, Josh insists he did not punch the pooch with a closed fist and he acted ‘out of character’ as he was in an emotional state of distress.
And he claims that he has been hounded by social media users who have sent him death threats after seeing the short clip.
Josh, who said he handed himself into the police after the incident in Doncaster yesterday, said the dog now has new owners and he is ‘devastated’ to have lost his ‘best friend’.
He added: ‘I am a dog lover, I did not abuse that dog.
‘I am not trying to justify what I did or defend my actions.
‘I did slap the dog, I admit it, but it was not malicious. I was just emotional because he had ran off earlier that day.
‘It looks like I am dragging him on the video, but I did not have his lead with me and that was the only way I could bring him with me.’
Shocking footage shows Josh approach bystanders before showing him his phone.
He said that Snoop, who he adopted from a rescue kennel in December, had run off after being spooked by a car as he crossed the road with Josh and a pal as they went to the shop.
Josh added: ‘I never put him on a lead anymore, as silly as it sounds, because he is so well trained and such a good dog that he just walks by my side.
‘On that occasion, we crossed the road and he always just usually follows me.
‘I took it for granted that he would follow me across the road, but a car went past and it scared him and he scarpered.
‘I shouted after him and gave chase but he was gone.’
Josh said he went home to get his bike so he could cover a larger area during his desperate search.
He said he came across Snoop, a seven-year-old Staffie cross, in a garden and got off his bike to inform the people that he was the owner.
He claims he showed them a picture of Snoop on his phone and was ‘overcome with emotion’ after spending two hours frantically looking for him.
Josh added: ‘It was a situation where I was so upset that he had ran off, I didn’t know whether to hug him or slap him.
‘I wish I had hugged him, I truly do.
‘When I got home, my friend rang me to say the footage was on social media and it doesn’t look good.
‘I didn’t see the footage until I was in the police station and the officers showed me.
‘It broke my heart, it really did.
‘I was heartbroken that it looked like I had been abusing him, but nothing could be further from the truth.
‘I loved that dog, he was my best friend and now I’ve lost him.
‘I took him in from the kennels and for the first few months he was walking around with his tail between his legs, he was really low on confidence.
‘But our bond grew and I spoiled him, I would walk him every day and give him treats. He is such a happy, loving dog. I had never done anything like this before.’
Josh now fears he may lose his job as a care support worker for adults with Autism and says his family has been threatened by vigilantes.
He added: ‘I came home from the police station and locked myself in my room and curled up into a ball, I just wanted to die.
‘I willingly handed myself into the police and when the police came to my house to inspect the dog, they could see he was happy and not being ill-treated.
‘I can understand the backlash and why people are angry. I would have been angry myself if I’d seen that happen to another dog.
‘I have ruined my whole life because of five seconds of emotion when I did not control myself.
‘I am not looking for sympathy or excusing what I did, but the video doesn’t show the two hours before that clip where I was looking for him or the two hours after it where he was playing with me and getting treats.’
Josh said in an attempt to prove that he loves Snoop, he volunteered him for adoption to a woman who contacted his mum.
He said: ‘She explained that they had a staffie who they lost a few months ago and they had another dog who was great with their kids and a real family pet.
‘My mum did all the background checks and was sure he was going to a loving home.
‘I am devastated to lose him, I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye because I was at the police station at the time.
‘I gave him up to prove that I just want what is best for him and still some people on social media said that made me look guilty.
‘You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’
South Yorkshire Police were alerted to the video and questioned Josh on Friday night.
A spokesman for the force said: ‘Police investigating a video showing a man hitting a dog in the face have arrested a 26-year-old man from Doncaster in connection with the incident.
‘He has been released under investigation.
‘The welfare of the dog has been checked and it has been removed from his custody.’