MICHIGAN CITY — A Michigan City man has pleaded guilty in connection with a puppy discovered badly injured when he limped to a neighbor's yard on Christmas Day 2015.

Richard Cope, 51, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 27 in LaPorte Superior Court 4 after Judge Greta Friedman on Friday took his plea under advisement.

If accepted, Cope will be convicted of intimidation, a Level 6 felony; torturing or mutilating an animal, a Level 6 felony; and animal neglect or abandonment, a class A misdemeanor.

In exchange, he agreed to serve no more than a 30-month sentence.

Cope is accused of breaking the pit bull's hips, along with other injuries, and taping his nose shut prior to the dog being discovered next door last Christmas.

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Several people noticed the dog in the backyard wheezing, foaming at the mouth and stumbling, according to the police report.

According to authorities, Cope left the area after police questioned him. In late January, he was arrested in El Paso, Texas.

Cope has a prior criminal history that includes a 12-year prison sentence in Louisiana for armed robbery in the mid-1990s and one year jail sentence for battery on a child under age 13 in DeKalb County in northeast Indiana, according to court records.

Guardians of the Green Mile, a dog rescue group out of Portage, paid for the dog's surgically repaired shattered hips and procedures to heal the sores on the inside of his mouth from having his snout wrapped in electrical tape for an extended period.

The plea also calls for Cope to repay the sheriff's office the more than $1,100 cost of having him transported back here to face charges and undisclosed costs related to the dog's surgery.

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