An ex-con who savagely beat his pit bull, breaking some of its ribs and a leg, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in state prison. Enrique George Hernandez, 39, pleaded guilty March 30 to animal cruelty for punching "Ozzie" at least 10 times on August 25, knocking the dog off its feet. The dog also had a burn, consistent with a cigarette burn, in the middle of his forehead, said Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright. "This is a very serious case," the prosecutor said. Deputy Public Defender Troy Britt called the crime "horrible." Still, he told the judge he had seen worse animal abuse cases. Britt cited a case in which someone with a crossbow used a cat as target practice. A neighbor, who saw Hernandez laughing as he beat and yelled at the dog while giving him a bath, called 911, the prosecutor said. The 55-pound animal survived the beating but became aggressive, unadoptable and was ultimately euthanized, authorities said. Superior Court Judge Howard Shore said the defendant knew what he was doing. "He obviously has a horrible temper and took it out on the dog," the judge said. Hernandez went to prison for auto theft after being convicted in 1989 and again in 1992 for an assault with a deadly weapon. He also went to prison for a 1995 conviction for beating his wife and was sentenced in 1998 to 77 months in federal custody for re-entering the United States illegally. He could have faced a maximum six years in prison on the animal cruelty charge. The judge called the crime "unjustifiable" but gave the defendant credit for taking anger management, domestic violence and parenting classes while in custody to improve his life. Britt said Hernandez was physically and emotionally abused by his father and had turned to methamphetamine to self-medicate for the past 20 years. "I just want to apologize for whoever I hurt in this case," Hernandez said. "Well, do you know who you hurt?" the judge asked. Hernandez said he guessed he hurt the dog and the people of San Diego. Shore said the defendant's attitude and disrespect toward the law was evident, citing Hernandez's "significant" prior record and willingness to sneak back into the United States after he had been deported. "It doesn't appear his level of remorse is very deep," the judge said. The dog was apparently a stray that Hernandez claimed as his own at an animal shelter, authorities said.To find out about pit bull rescues, click on www.PitBullRescueSanDiego.com or to report animal abuse, call (619) 236-4250.