Veteran convicted of burning neighbor's dogs, gouging out pup's eye

VISTA, California (KTRK) -- An Iraq War veteran was convicted of abusing his neighbors' dogs, including gouging out the eye of a Siberian Husky. David C. Herbert was sentenced to nearly 10 years in custody Friday.

Jurors last summer found the 37-year-old guilty of six counts of animal cruelty, one count of burglary and four misdemeanor counts of vandalism for harming two separate families' dogs, one of which remains missing.

Authorities said Herbert targeted a family living next door to him, burning their two huskies, Cocayo and Estrella, with caustic chemicals and repeatedly slashing the tires on the family's vehicles in 2017.

The family moved out of their rental home after discovering that someone had broken in and gouged Estrella's eye out.

"He terrorized us. There's not a day goes by that I don't look over my shoulder to see if he's following me, or how many times in the middle of the night I check my windows and doors," said one of the neighbors.

About one month later, a new family with two dogs moved in, and within two days their 9-year-old Golden Retriever Lala disappeared. The service dog for their daughter has never been found and is presumed dead.

According to KMFB, police found a small amount of blood in Herbert's car and on a baseball bat he owned.

Herbert, who represented himself at trial, testified that Lala jumped in his car and he was about to take her to a shelter when she jumped out and ran off.

Herbert seemed unremorseful when he apologized.

"I get worked up really easily, especially when I feel that I'm fighting for a righteous cause. I do get worked up, but I'm not a bad person," said Herbert.
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