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
On a cold day in February, the ASPCA responded to a tip that came in through our Humane Law Enforcement helpline. A dog had been left outside with no access to food, water or shelter. When we arrived at the scene, it was far worse than we had initially expected. We found a puppy, just skin and bones, who was barely able to walk.
Immediately, we jumped into action. Our team transported the emaciated dog, named Finley, to the ASPCA Animal Hospital for treatment. After an examination, veterinarians found the puppy to be suffering from paraphimosis, a condition of the genitals,and an untreated respiratory infection. They also found pieces of metal in Finley’s intestines and determined that his emaciated condition was due to starvation. Finley had been eating trash to survive.
On May 9, Finley’s owner, Anthony Martin, 46, was arrested for allegedly neglecting the puppy. He was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Update! We are happy to report that after five weeks of treatment, Finley put on more than 20 pounds! He is continuing to recover and will eventually be made available for adoption.
Today, we’re excited to let you know that the very first six dogs from the case are being transferred to animal shelters for adoption! That means they’re one step closer to finding loving families.
Three of the dogs will go to Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Two are going to the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, Kansas. And the Kansas-based Great Plains SPCA is receiving one dog. These ASPCA partner organizations each sent volunteers to help out at our temporary shelter, and these lucky dogs will be heading home with the volunteers.
For legal reasons, the rest of the dogs rescued in our three-state raid remain in our care at a state-of-the-art temporary shelter, where they’re receiving lots of love and care, too.
Members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response and Forensic Services teams are on the ground in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, assisting local authorities with the investigation of a farm animal cruelty case involving nearly 30 horses and other farm animals.
The Pleasant Prairie Police Department executed a search warrant on April 9, finding, among other animals, five deceased horses and 22 horses in poor condition. These horses were removed from the property and are now being housed temporarily by local rescue groups, getting the care and attention they desperately needed.
On April 30 the ASPCA teams arrived in Pleasant Prairie, about halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago. We’re there to support the Pleasant Prairie Police Department by lending our expertise in animal crime scene investigation.
We’re honored to help the Pleasant Prairie Police Department step up for these animals in need, and we’ll provide updates about this case as they come in.
If you suspect you’ve witnessed cruelty in your area, please don’t hesitate to report it. You could save a life.
In late March, the ASPCA assisted federal authorities in a three-state dog fighting raid and the removal of 100 canine victims. Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations & Response team, has been on the front lines of this operation since the beginning. Here's his report about the remarkable sheltering facility that has been created to care for the dogs involved in this case.
We're pleased to report that the dogs are being very well cared for while in the custody of the ASPCA. The ASPCA’s Animal Cruelty Behavior team has been in the field from day one to oversee the animals' enrichment, socialization and exercise to ensure that these dogs are receiving all the care and attention they deserve.
The dogs are housed individually in a pod system. The kennels surround a 20x20 exercise area that the dogs have access to based on a carefully designed plan by the exercise coordinator. The exercise coordinator works in tandem with the behavior program to ensure the dogs enjoy adequate time outside their kennels several times a day.
The environment is relaxed and quiet with a strong focus on enrichment. There is very little barking, a strong indication the animals are not feeling stressed during their recovery. Responders go in to provide daily human socialization and interaction, and provide them with enrichment items like toys, treats and lots of love.
Every effort is made to keep the dogs focused so they don't become bored, which can lead to destructive behavior. We have observed that the dogs are responding very well, becoming trained to enjoy their playtime, learning to cooperate, and adjusting to human contact.
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for updates on this ongoing rescue.