MICHIGAN CITY — A man wanted by LaPorte County authorities for the alleged abuse of a pit bull was arrested late Sunday in El Paso, Texas, authorities said.
Richard Cope faces one count of torturing an animal, a Level 6 felony, and three Class A misdemeanor counts of cruelty to an animal.
Michigan City and LaPorte County authorities said in social media statements Sunday night they would seek Cope's extradition back to Indiana.
"I'm proud of the efforts put forth by Detective Jillian Ashley and Detective Cpl. Al Bush," Michigan City Police Chief Mark Swistek said following the arrest. "They quickly followed up on leads and their diligent work led to the warrant being issued for Cope."
Cope was arrested about 7:30 p.m. Sunday by United States Marshals, officials said.
Cope allegedly abused the dog severely after the animal was found on Christmas in Michigan City.
Officials said the puppy was found with its mouth taped shut and had two broken hips.
Camille Germain and her friends were in the backyard after having dinner when they heard the dog "wheezing" then saw him stumbling up to them with its mouth taped shut.
They took the dog to the North Central Emergency Veterinary Center near Westville.
Eight days later, a veterinarian repaired the puppy’s shattered femoral heads in both hips during a nearly two-hour surgery.
The injuries to the pit bull puppy may have been from being used as bait for dog fighting, officials said. The puppy is recovering and has been named Chance Christmas.
Police said Cope was identified as a suspect and fled after a warrant was issued Jan. 11.
Initially, the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team took over the investigation. The U.S. Marshals became involved in the case when it was learned Cope fled to Texas.
LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd praised the work of the FAST unit.
"Once again the collaborative efforts between the Michigan City Police, LaPorte County Sheriff's Office and the United States Marshal's Service have proven fruitful," Boyd said. "Many leads were developed and followed up not only in LaPorte County but across Indiana and all the way to Texas."
Authorities said the investigation continues and more charges are possible.