The Vancouver man who admitted to beating his German shepherd before leaving it to die in a Kitsilano dumpster tried to kill the animal with a baseball bat, a court heard Tuesday.

The two-year-old dog was found wrapped in a bloody blanket and covered in bruises and cuts in July 2012. He was unable to walk, covered in feces and passed away from his injuries the next day. A veterinarian who treated the animal said it suffered severe head trauma, a collapsed lung and if it had survived it would have likely been left quadriplegic. The dog was emaciated and there were signs it was malnourished.

The badly injured animal was discovered near-death after neighbours heard his cries from the garbage container.

Brian Whitlock, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty earlier this year.

Crown prosecutors are recommending Whitlock spends four to six months in jail, minus time served, in addition to three years’ probation and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

His lawyers are asking for a non-custodial sentence, saying mental illness was a factor in the incident.

Psychiatric assessments of Whitlock came back with two different results: One said there was no indication of mental issues at the time, while another said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

During his sentencing hearing Tuesday, the court heard that Whitlock told police he thought Captain had eaten something strange and started acting unusual. Fearing the dog was poisoned, Whitlock became afraid of the dog and put him in a separate room.

Whitlock said he didn’t want to take the dog to the SPCA or a vet because it would be expensive, and said he thought it was his responsibility to “deal with the dog.”

The court heard that Whitlock entered the room with a piece of chicken and then hit Captain over the head three to four times with a baseball bat. Believing it was dead, he then moved the dog to the dumpster.

A baseball bat with fur on it that matched Captain’s DNA was seized from his home a month later, in addition to chains and a walking stick.

Whitlock told police he killed the dog as quickly and humanely as possible, and that Captain was the best dog he ever had.

Marcie Moriarity of the BC SPCA said the agency hopes, at the very least, Whitlock will never be allowed to own a pet again.

“I think he should never be able to be around animals again,” she said. “I would like to see jail time for the type of violence he inflicted – but I’m not hopeful.”

Animal activists wearing shirts saying “For the Love of Captain” arrived at court early this morning, planning to observe the proceedings.

“No animal should ever suffer that sort of treatment. And it happened in our own backyard which makes it hit closer to home,” one protester told CTV News outside of the provincial courthouse.

Two groups of animal rights campaigners held a rally this weekend ahead of sentencing. More than 130,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Crown to slap animal abusers with stiffer sentences.

Whitlock will return to court on June 12.