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.
Last year, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents arrested a Staten Island man after he threw his friend’s cat off an eighth-floor balcony. This week justice was served.
Buriell Jones, 57, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated cruelty to animals, the top count against him, and was sentenced Monday to four months in jail. He is also no longer allowed to own an animal.
This despicable act occurred on Oct. 2, 2012, after Jones began arguing with his friend. Jones eventually threw the cat — a seven-year-old black-and-white Domestic Shorthair—from the apartment balcony on Broad Street in Staten Island.
Unfortunately, when ASPCA Agents arrived, the cat had already passed away. A necropsy revealed the cat died from severe blunt-force trauma.
“Four months may not seem like enough punishment to fit the crime, but at least this man will no longer be able to own an animal,” says Stacy Wolf, ASPCA Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel.
We work hard to arrest and help prosecute anyone who abuses animals, but we need your help to ensure those who harm animals pay for their crimes. If you suspect animal cruelty in your area, please report it. Animals are counting on us.
On April 12, the ASPCA arrested a Bronx man for shooting his neighbor’s Maltese, Spike, after the dog wandered into his yard.
Donald Savino, 73, had signs in his yard that said “keep your dog off the grass.” When Spike slipped out the door and into Savino’s yard, Savino allegedly shot him with an air rifle from his window.
“He was smelling a tree,” Spike’s pet parent, Marco Lopez, told The New York Daily News. “Suddenly, I hear this noise....I hear my dog cry—he was screaming in pain.”
Lopez rushed his dog to an emergency veterinarian, but Spike couldn’t be saved and was humanely euthanized. ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents took Spike’s body to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where our forensic veterinarians determined he had been shot twice, in two separate incidents, and that his injuries would have been fatal.
“You have no idea all the pain we went through,” Lopez told The Daily News. “We loved (Spike) so much....It was such a terrible way that he died.”
Savino was charged with aggravated animal cruelty, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief and possession of an air rifle.
We can’t believe what happened to Spike, and we’re fighting every day to stop animal cruelty and ensure those who harm animals pay for their crimes. If you know of animal cruelty in your area, please report it. Animals are counting on us.
We’ve wanted to tell you about Vampiro for some time, and you won’t believe what he’s been through. In January, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents responded to a call from NYC Animal Care & Control about a six-year-old Chihuahua who had been abandoned in a pet store.
The dog, Vampiro, was just skin and bones. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, veterinarians found Vampiro to be emaciated, dehydrated and suffering from an untreated skin ailment, all caused by prolonged inadequate nutrition. He was also found to be blind. Our vets gave Vampiro IV fluids, medication, water and a balanced diet right away.
Meanwhile, AC&C told us that Vampiro had been adopted in 2006 by Brooklyn resident Venus Laventure, 50. On February 25, the ASPCA arrested Laventure. She was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. If convicted, she faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. She is due in court on May 13.
After a few months at the ASPCA, Vampiro is doing much better. In fact, he’ll soon be made available for adoption—and his future family is in for a treat! Vampiro is a sweetheart who loves to give doggie kisses.