It’s every pet parent’s worst nightmare—temporarily leaving your pets with a trusted caregiver only to find out that things have gone terribly wrong. That’s exactly what happened to one New York City family. Late last month, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) Agents responded to a call from a panic-stricken woman: She had just returned home from an extended vacation only to find her beloved cats were missing.
In a shocking twist, our investigation revealed that the pet sitter, a trusted friend of the family, had purposely abandoned the animals.
“He simply didn’t want to take care of them anymore,” says Howard Lawrence, Senior Director of Operations for the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department. “And that is just not acceptable.”
Video surveillance shows two men transporting the cats from the home in carriers and dumping them in a nearby alley. A witness has also stepped up to corroborate that he saw the incident occur.
Rafael Lugo, 59, and his friend Robert Ramos, 55,were both charged with two counts of animal abandonment. If convicted, they face up to two years in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. To date, the cats have not yet been found.
“Trust was severely violated in this case, and a family is now beside themselves over the loss of their pets,” says Lawrence. “We hope that these two individuals will be held accountable for their actions.”
Anyone with information about the cats’ whereabouts is asked to please contact the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Hotline: 877-THE-ASPCA (843-2772). Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #PetSitterBust