Utica, NY (WIBX) - The man accused of keeping eight pitt bulls in deplorable condition--leading to the death of six of them--was in Utica City Court this morning. Umar Aziz is facing multiple animal abuse charges, but managed to keep an upbeat demeanor in court, even turning around and smiling at people sitting in the court room. The 22-year-old is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence on an unrelated charge, but told Judge Ralph Eannace, who's presiding over the case, that he wants a jury trial.His case  is scheduled for July 18, 2012, with bail set at $9,400.

The two surviving dogs are now in the care of the Stevens-Swan Humane Society. The staff named them Vanessa and Macho. The April 2nd discovery of the animals in an apartment on Whitesboro Street in Utica, has state officials calling for tougher laws to help reduce the rise in animal abuse cases in the region. A hearing on the issue was held in Utica last week. Officials say the case is one of the worst they've seen recently. It's alleged that the dogs were extremely malnourished and some ate shoe leather to stay alive. The case is being prosecuted by the Oneida County District Attorney's Office.

Aziz is facing the following charges:

  • 3 counts of Failure to License Dogs
  • 1 count of Torture, Injure, Not Feeding Dogs
  • 1 count of Failure to Keep Clean Animal Condition
  • 1 count of Failure to Vaccinate Dogs