Police arrested a Bat Yam man Tuesday night after videos showing him abusing a dog went viral on social media and enraged thousands of dog-loving Israelis.
Stomach-churning videos of the abuse circulated on social media where the suspect - an oleh chadash (new immigrant) from the United States in his 30s – is seen tying the dog down, beating him with his bare hands and whipping him repeatedly with a belt despite the dog howling in pain.
Shortly after one of the videos went viral, internet stars Mishel Taroni and Dennis Charkov were first to arrive at the suspect's house and are seen confronting him, demanding he releases the dog and refuse to let the suspect go until police arrived at the scene.
In a documentation of the incident, Taroni is even seen blocking other angry civilians who apparently wished to harm the suspect.
Officers arrested the man and had to sneak him through a window in the back of the building using a rope to prevent an angry crowd of some 200 people that gathered outside the building from hurting him.
Bat Yam Mayor Zvika Brot also arrived at the scene and expressed his shock at the horrifying images.
"I was flabbergasted to see the shocking videos circulating online, and I commend the municipal police for their great and professional work," Brot said. "Together with police, we will make every effort to bring him to justice for this reprehensible act."
Police also rescued the dog, a mixed-breed husky named Taylor, alongside a team from the Agriculture Ministry, who had been notified of the incident by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel (SPCA), where the dog was originally adopted from. He was then brought over to an Agriculture Ministry facility, from where he will be given to one of the country's animal welfare groups and placed up for adoption after being processed by the ministry's Animal Welfare Department.
Following the incident, hundreds of civilians turned to the ministry and requested to adopt Taylor.
The suspect claimed during his interrogation that he had been treated by a psychiatrist in the past.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court Wednesday morning extended the suspect's remand by five days on charges of animal cruelty and sent him to psychiatric evaluation, according to a police statement.
The suspect's attorney said her client agreed to be examined by a mental health professional.
"The suspect is an oleh chadash (new immigrant) from the United States who has been in the country for six years," she said. "He expressed remorse for his actions. This was a difficult experience [for him] as social activists barged into his home and threatened him."
Dr. Dganit Ben Dov, who oversees the enforcement of animal cruelty laws in the Agriculture Ministry, told the Ynet studio on Wednesday that Taylor the husky was doing well and urged citizens to report any instance of animal cruelty.
"The dog is doing fine surprisingly. It has very good and strong character," Dr. Ben Dov said. "When suspicions of animal cruelty arise, please contact our call center, which operates 24 hours a day, in the number 03-9559911 and each report will be examined."
"Thank you to all those good people who bring this to our attention. Fortunately, most abuse cases are not so severe, but there are too many cases of people who run illegal breeding operations and neglect their dogs. I call on the public – report."