By Ricky Casiano, from Queens Chronicle
Animal protection agents have been busy this month in Queens, arresting five residents over four animal cruelty incidents that left two dogs dead and others seriously injured.
The incidents come at a time when the city is increasing pressure on animal cruelty suspects and widening protections for dogs especially. A dog tethering bill was enacted last month to limit the time canines may be tied up to three hours and to ban certain collars that can harm them, among other provisions.
With the recent arrests, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement agents found that residents reporting animal cruelty helped ensure that those who abuse pets are held accountable.
“The animals can not speak for themselves,” ASPCA Assistant Director Joseph Pentangelo said. “We need the public to get involved. In these cases the public did and we appreciate that.”
In the most recent case, Jerry Melendez of Ridgewood was arrested Feb. 18 for allegedly beating and critically injuring a 5-year-old male Chihuahua, which eventually had to be euthanized, according to Pentangelo. On Feb. 10 ASPCA agents responded to a call from a veterinarian at a private hospital. After the Chihuahua was put down, a necropsy revealed that he had sustained a fractured skull caused by blunt force impact. The dog had also suffered from hemorrhage to the left eye.
As a result, unlike the other cases in which the defendants face misdemeanor charges, Malendez, 33, was hit with one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony that can result in twice the prison time and fines that the misdemeanors can bring.
The seven incidents up to this time are about the same as the number last year. In 2010 there were 51 incidents of animal cruelty in the city, Pentangelo said.
The other defendants charged this month with animal cruelty in Queens are:
• Desiree Powell, 27, of Long Island City, arrested Feb. 5 for allegedly beating her Yorkshire terrier puppy, Chibi, who sustained three leg fractures, two broken ribs and a hemorrhage to his right eye. Doctors discovered the injuries after Powell had given the dog up for adoption. She faces one count of misdeameanor animal cruelty.
• Leroy Shepard, 18, and Nikira Shepard, 20, of Jamaica, both arrested on Feb. 11 for allegedly neglecting and starving two pit bull terriers. The siblings were hit with two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty apiece.
• Cherie Fillmore, 32, also of Jamaica, arrested Feb. 8 after the carcass of a pit bull puppy was found chained to a railing outside her house. The dog had starved to death. Fillmore faces one misdeameanor count.
In addition to the spate of allegations in Queens, a man in the Bronx was arrested Feb. 12 for allegedly neglecting a starving dog that was still alive.
If convicted, the people charged with misdemeanors could face up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine; Melendez could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. The misdemeanor suspects were given desk appearance tickets and are due in coGrt later this month, and Melendez is awaiting trial, Pentangelo said.
Anyone suspecting animal cruelty is encouraged to call (877) THE ASPCA (843-2772) or (212) 876-7700, ext. 4450.