The owner of Captain, the German shepherd who was badly beaten and left to die in a Vancouver dumpster in July, has been charged with animal cruelty, the BC SPCA announced Monday.

Crown counsel has approved a single count of causing unnecessary suffering, pain or injury to an animal against 26-year-old Brian Whitlock.

If convicted, Whitlock faces up to five years in prison, a $75,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

In July, the two-year-old dog was found wrapped in a bloody blanket inside a Kitsilano dumpster after neighbours heard the dog’s cries.

Captain was badly beaten, emaciated, covered in blood, feces and bruises and was unable to walk. Despite efforts of medical staff to save the dog, he went into cardiac arrest and died the next day.

A neurologist who examined the German shepherd said if he had survived, he likely would have been quadriplegic.

According to a search warrant executed at Whitlock’s apartment, police found a knife, baseball bat and heavy chain inside his home.

The BC SPCA recommended charges in the case later in July, but the identity of the person charged wasn’t released until Monday.

“The BC SPCA is extremely pleased that Crown counsel accepted our recommendation for charges in this case,” said Lorie Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BC SPCA.

“It is absolutely heartbreaking to think of the suffering that this dog experienced – it’s beyond comprehension.”

The tragic case outraged animal lovers, prompting vigils and fundraising efforts. As a result, more than $70,000 has been raised to support the BC SPCA’s efforts to fight animal cruelty.

Whitlock will appear in Vancouver court on Dec. 7.