San Jose school’s pet tortoise recovering after being stabbed by intruder in ‘brutal’ attack

California
A tortoise named Michelangelo is fed a strawberry by a police officer while in recovery after a man stabbed and beat the pet at a San Jose school. This image was released Feb. 1, 2021, by the San Jose Police Department.

A tortoise named Michelangelo is fed a strawberry by a police officer while in recovery after a man stabbed and beat the pet at a San Jose school. This image was released Feb. 1, 2021, by the San Jose Police Department.

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A tortoise named Michelangelo is recovering after a man broke into a San Francisco Bay Area preschool and stabbed and beat the pet, which is estimated to be about 70 years old, authorities said.

The 65-pound African sulcata tortoise was found Saturday with a piece of wood and a rake handle stabbed through his outer shell. The attacker apparently used garden tools taken from the school.

“I thought he was dead … So it was almost a good feeling when he hissed at me because I knew he was alive,” Tammy Lariz, the administrator at Play ‘N’ Learn Preschool in San Jose, told KPIX-TV. “Whenever he would move or we would try to move him, more blood would come.”

“It just made no sense,” she said. “I can’t even comprehend how you could be that disgusting to do that to an animal.”

“It was pretty brutal,” said Dr. Tal Solomon of Archvet Animal Hospital, which is providing the treatment for free.

Michelangelo — who is named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character — had surgery to repair his shell and remove wood and other debris, Solomon told KTVU-TV.

The animal’s organs weren’t damaged and he should make a full recovery, Solomon said.

George Robles, 40, of San Jose, was arrested and accused of animal abuse and felony vandalism and was placed on a 72-hour mental health examination, authorities said.

Robles also caused $1,800 in damage to the school building and play equipment, police said.

It wasn’t known whether Robles had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

Michelangelo was donated to the school from a rescue program four years ago. He could be well enough to go back to the preschool in a couple of months.

“Abuse of an innocent animal is intolerable and must be addressed,” acting Chief of Police Dave Tindall said in a statement. “This underscores the need for continued collaboration with our mental health professionals.”

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