A man accused of choking his Labrador retriever puppy as punishment for biting pleaded not guilty Friday in San Diego to felony animal cruelty.

The 10-week-old dog, named Coco, died several hours before 50-year-old David Hale Warner appeared in court.

Bail was set at $35,000.

San Diego Department of Animal Services Lt. Daniel DeSousa says Warner faces up to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine if he's convicted.

DeSousa says when Warner arrived at an emergency clinic with Coco on Wednesday, the dog couldn't walk, was breathing poorly and had reddish saliva and blue gums. He says Warner told authorities he pinned the dog down for 20 seconds after the dog bit his girlfriend in the nose.

DeSousa described the injury as a minor scratch.

Click here for more from Fox5SanDiego.com.