A 24-year-old New Hanover man has been fined by a judge for leaving a dog locked in a car without any food or water for nearly six hours.
Steven Blaine Santangelo Jr., of the 2500 block of Cherry Court, was ordered to pay a $100 fine and court costs after he pleaded guilty to a summary charge of cruelty to animals in connection with an August 2012 incident in West Pottsgrove. Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy ordered Santangelo to pay the fine within three months.
Under state law, a person commits a summary offense of cruelty to animals if he neglects any animal as to which he has a duty of care or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care. Summary offenses, similar to traffic citations, are punishable by a fine.
Originally, Santangelo was charged with a more serious misdemeanor cruelty to animals offense. However, that charge was amended to a summary violation during the court hearing.
An investigation began about 1:22 p.m. Aug. 30, 2012, when West Pottsgrove police responded to the 1000 block of Manatawny Street for a report of “a dog locked in a vehicle for a long period of time,” according to the arrest affidavit. A caller informed police the dog was locked in the vehicle since 7:30 a.m.
When police arrived at the scene they found a small dog, a Staffordshire terrier named Lexi, locked in a Ford F-150 pickup truck, which was “parked in the sun without any type of shade,” according to court papers filed by West Pottsgrove Detective Sgt. Steven Ziegler.
“The windows of the truck were all the way up and the outside temperature was approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, although the inside of the truck when opened was much hotter,” Ziegler alleged. “The truck was eventually opened with a lockout kit and the dog appeared very dehydrated and lethargic.”
Animal control officials were contacted and the dog was removed and transported to a local veterinary hospital for treatment, police said.
While police were still at the scene, Santangelo appeared from a nearby apartment and asked police why the doors of his vehicle were open. Santangelo identified the terrier as his and claimed he had checked on the dog about 11:30 a.m.
Santangelo subsequently admitted that he had locked the dog in the vehicle sometime between 7 and 7:30 a.m. “without any food or water,” Ziegler wrote in court papers.
The veterinarian who treated the dog told police “the dog was exposed to high temperatures that could have done serious harm and the dog would have to be kept under observation for the evening,” according to court documents.
“The veterinarian further said that in his professional opinion the incident would be considered cruelty to animals based on all the facts,” Ziegler alleged.