DA: Man who attacked dog, owner with machete ‘should have been ordered to serve more jail time’

TAUNTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A Taunton man who attacked a dog owner and their pet with a machete last year pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and assault charges last week and has been sentenced to six months behind bars — a punishment Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III says is too lenient.

Thomas Vargas pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court to a two-count indictment charging him with animal cruelty and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, Quinn said in a statement Thursday.

On Sept. 18, 2017, the dog’s owner was walking her American Staffordshire Terrier named Baby Bear down Church Street in Taunton when Vargas approached them with a machete and stabbed the dog twice. The owner was also struck while trying to defend their pet.

Judge William F. Sullivan sentenced Vargas to two-and-a-half years in county jail, with only six months to serve. The balance of the sentence will be suspended for two years, meaning if Vargas is charged with new crimes during that time period, he could be forced to serve the remainder of the jail term.

Quinn said Vargas’ criminal record includes a 2015 conviction on an assault and battery in Attleboro, a 10-year federal commitment on a drug case in 1997, a three to five year state prison sentence for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and several other crimes.

“This defendant showed no respect for the law by attacking a dog and its owner in broad daylight on a city street,” Quinn said in a statement. “His lawlessness is not surprising based on his significant criminal history. He should have been ordered to serve more jail time, but at least there is some accountability.”

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