A New York City man has been charged with animal cruelty after bringing his severely malnourished boxer dog to a local shelter and posing as the animal's rescuer, NY Daily News reports.
Anthony Esteves, 25, of Queens reportedly brought his emaciated pet boxer to New York City Animal Care Center in Rego Park on Oct. 13, claiming that he found the starved animal in a field in Queens.
Esteves, who reportedly gave the shelter a false home address, first told employees at the care center that he was interested in adopting the dog if it recovered, but later claimed to have changed his mind, the Queens County District Attorney's office said in a press release on Oct. 22.
The boxer, which shelter workers have named Brewster, weighed only 25 pounds when he should have been closer to 60 or 65 pounds, rescuers say. The animal also had large sores all over its body.
Adopt a Boxer Rescue took the dog to a veterinary hospital for treatment and put out a reward for information.
After NY Daily News reported on the story and contacted city police, officers in the New York Police Department Cruelty Investigation Squad launched an investigation into the dog's circumstances.
Police questioned Esteves at his home on Oct. 19 after being told by the newspaper that he had given the shelter a false address.
During questioning, Esteves told investigators many different stories about who the dog belonged to and where he had found the animal before finally admitting that he was the dog's owner and that he didn't want the dog to die in his bedroom, according to the district attorney's office.
A police search of Esteves's home conducted later that evening found no evidence of dog food or receipts for veterinary care anywhere in the home, the DA's office said. Among the items discovered in the search was a dog dish that Esteves reportedly used to hold personal items.
Esteves was arrested and charged with aggravated animal cruelty, falsifying records and torturing and injuring animals. He has been released on his own recognizance, but is due back in court on Dec. 15.
He faces up to four years in prison if convicted of all charges.
“The defendant is accused of showing a complete disregard for the well-being of this helpless animal when he failed to provide the basic necessities required to maintain the animal’s health,” Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown said in the press release. “I commend the Daily News for bringing the matter to the attention of authorities.”
Brewster has been placed in a foster home where he is recovering well, according to rescue workers.
“He’s doing really well, he gained 6 pounds in the first week we had him,” Amy Swift, a representative from Adopt a Boxer Rescue, told NY Daily News. “His temperament could not be better. He is the ideal dog — so friendly to everyone.”
Swift added that Brewster is still undergoing medical treatment and will not be ready for adoption for several more weeks.
According to statistics published by the Humane Society of the United States, about 64.5 percent of animal cruelty cases reported to the media in 2007 involved dogs.