Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds Tampa man guilty of butchering, eating puppy

TAMPA — Prosecutors told a jury Thursday that Thomas Huggins killed a dog with his bare hands.

Huggins' attorneys didn't deny that, but claimed it hadn't been proven to be a cruel death. Testifying in his defense, Huggins said that he didn't want the dog to suffer, it had just grown too large and aggressive.

It took jurors about an hour Thursday to find Huggins guilty of animal cruelty.

Huggins, 26, was arrested in June after his mother discovered the remains of her young pit bull Bandit. Authorities say Huggins told them he strangled the dog, then used a steak knife to skin and eviscerate it.

Tampa police said they discovered the dog's head and innards in a trash can at Huggins' mother's home, and that Huggins had quartered the dog's remains, stored some of them in the freezer and cooked the ribs in a pot on the stove, eating some of the meat.

The one-day trial focused on the strangulation and whether it was a cruel death.

Bill Zingalie, who works for Hillsborough County Animal Services, testified that he didn't see signs of blunt trauma or other injury in the remains. But he said, "Strangulation as a form of euthanasia is not considered an acceptable form of euthanasia in a dog."

Huggins sat staring down at his hands. He later told jurors that he held the dog in a cloth and twice tried to strangle it with a plastic garbage bag.

"I didn't want her to suffer," Huggins said. "I put it down because it was getting aggressive."

In a call from jail played to the jury, Huggins told his father that he didn't know what he did was illegal, and that his mother had blown it out of proportion.

Margie Huggins, Thomas Huggins' mother, said she and her son cared for Bandit together.

"It was Thomas' dog, but I helped Thomas take care of the dog," she said. "It was, like, our dog."

After Bandit's death, she said, she saw the dog's remains in the trash at her house.

"It was a dog's head, and the body parts, skin, she said. "It looked like my dog. Our dog."

Huggins' relatives told investigators he might suffer from mental illness, according to police records.

Huggins, who could spend up to five years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 19. After the verdict was read Thursday, he asked Judge Samantha Ward if he could receive his sentence right away.

"I don't think you'd like my sentence if I sentenced you right now," Ward said.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

Jury finds Tampa man guilty of butchering, eating puppy 11/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  2. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  3. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  4. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]
  5. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.2 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]