PHOENIX — A Phoenix man has been charged with animal cruelty for repeatedly beating his dogs with metal rods, court documents say. 

In March 2018, a veterinarian at Midwestern University reported that a rescue brought a chihuahua into the clinic that had leg fractures from a beating. Court records say the injuries were so bad the dog's right hind leg had to be amputated. 

Police investigated at the home of the dog's owner, Darius McNeal, and talked to a neighbor, who told officers she saw McNeal hit his dogs with a metal rod and a stick. 

Court records say she pointed to two metal rods in McNeal's front yard and said those were the ones she saw McNeal beating the dogs with. The neighbor told investigators a dog named "Dice Money" got the worst of the beatings with a pipe. 

The court documents indicate McNeal had been investigated by AHS before. In 2017, McNeal reportedly told an AHS investigator, "I whoop my dog's ass just like I do my kids."

It is unclear from the records what happened after this, but the dogs remained in his home until the investigation the next year.

A woman who lived with McNeal at the time gave police a metal pipe and a shower rod McNeal also reportedly used to hit the dogs, according to the documents. 

She also gave investigators recordings of McNeal hitting his dogs and yelling at them as the dogs cried out in pain, the court paperwork says. 

According to the description of the recordings in the court documents, McNeal can be heard threatening to knock Dice Money's teeth out. 

Investigators say in the paperwork that the woman who provided the recordings confirmed she once heard McNeal bragging about knocking Dice Money's tooth out.

Dice Money, a black 3-year-old pit bull terrier mix, was seized and taken to the Arizona Humane Society for evaluation.

Veterinarians had to sedate him to properly evaluate him, but they found the dog had a broken tooth. The tooth required surgical extraction and repair.

McNeal later told police he broke the chihuahua's leg when he accidentally stepped on her, according to court documents. He reportedly went on to tell them he forced her to swim in the bathtub despite believing she had a broken leg. 

McNeal told investigators the chihuahua, whom he called "Armani," was aggressive and would run up under his feet biting at his socks and shoes. 

Court records show, however, that the dog appeared timid and showed no signs of aggression toward police or AHS employees.

A third dog also had scars on the face and muzzle, and McNeal is reported as telling investigators he used a pipe to "tap" his dogs to get them to do what he told them to do. 

McNeal was arrested in 2018, and the county attorney's office filed two counts of animal cruelty charges against him earlier this month. 

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