SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A homeless man falsely accused of abusing his dog has been acquitted of animal cruelty charges, only to see his accuser adopt the beloved Chihuahua while the man languished in a San Francisco jail.

It took a jury less than 45 minutes this week to find 57-year-old Morris Varian not guilty. But before his day in court, Varian spent 37 days in jail unable to post bail as the case moved through the system.

And during that time, his dog was placed in a shelter and adopted, by the restaurateur who filed the complaint against him.

“We did try to call the shelter to get Aubrey back,” said Deputy Public Defender Abigail Rivamonte, only to be told, “the dog has been adopted. Aubrey’s been adopted.”

The man who adopted her is Firewood Cafe restaurant owner Glenn Meyer. He told police he saw Varian beat the dog and throw her against a wall, accusations not supported by surveillance video or a vet’s testimony after an examination of the dog.

“No bruising, no swelling, no broken bones, no black eye, nothing, nothing to suggest that this dog was abused,” Rivamonte said, adding that, despite all the evidence supporting his innocence, Varian was reluctant to take the case to trial.

What did happen, according to Varian, is that he disciplined his dog for running into traffic on the corner of Third and Mission streets near Yerba Buena Gardens on February 9, 2012. So Rivamonte urged him to stand and fight the misdemeanor charge.

“Why compromise your innocence and say you beat up your animal that you loved?” she said.

Meyer has not responded to requests for comment.

“I’m definitely looking into ways that we can help Mr. Varian get Aubrey back,” Rivamonte said, a task she is not expecting will be easy.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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