New Bedford man charged with animal cruelty

Manuel Erinna

A man has been charged with animal cruelty after police say he beat his ex-girlfriend's cat with a baseball bat.

The cat, a four-year-old female named Smudge, is recovering after surgery because she lost her eye. The veterinarian, Dr. Corinne Slaughter, tells NBC 10 the cat was hit so hard, her eye came out of its socket and had to be removed during surgery.

Smudge has been through a lot of trauma throughout the last few days, and Slaughter said she can't make sense of why she continues to see situations like this one.

"Why anybody would beat up an innocent little kitten - she's little, she's only ten pounds - is beyond me. It's just beyond me," Slaughter said.

Smudge has a cast on one paw and has stitches where her eyes used to be.

Manuel Erinna, 55, of New Bedford, has been charged with one count of animal cruelty. Police tell NBC 10 he was on the phone with his ex-girlfriend when he heard her granddaughter crying in the background. The woman told Erinna that the cat had scratched the child. Police say Erinna then came over to the woman's apartment, closed the bedroom door where she and the child were and started beating the cat with a baseball bat.

Neighbors tell NBC 10 they believe Erinna has a drinking problem, but they say he should not have hurt an animal regardless of the circumstances.

"That's crazy. He should be at where he should be at - jail," Ezequiel Jesus Rivera, a neighbor of Erinna's for the last year and a half, said. "To do something like that to a cat - a cat won't harm [anybody]."

Dr. Slaughter is taking care of Smudge and will take the cat home with her to heal before she is put up for adoption.

"Just think what he might have done to his ex-girlfriend or the grandchild. I mean, if you're going to hit an innocent cat, what's the next step?" Slaughter said.

"Hopefully he will get his day in court and hopefully this cat will get [her] day in a nice, loving home," Manny Maciel, animal control officer for New Bedford, said.

Police say Erinna has been arraigned in New Bedford District Court on his charge of animal cruelty.