A 32-year-old immigrant from Poland has been charged with abusing and torturing a female Pit Bull, who was affectionately called “Puppy Doe” by thousands of heartbroken animal lovers who read about her and contributed to funds to establish a reward for identifying the person who subjected the young dog to unconscionable injury and suffering.
Radoslaw Artur Czerkawski was arraigned at Quincy District Court on Tuesday and pleaded innocent on 11 counts of cruelty to animals and charges of misleading a police investigation, reports NBCConnecticut.
Judge Mark Coven granted the prosecutors’ request for $500,000 cash bail and ordered Czerkawski to surrender his passport because he would be high risk to flee the country.
Czerkawski will return for a pretrial session in court on November 21. Norfolk County prosecutor Tracey Cusick said the case will be presented to a grand jury.
Authorities reported that “Puppy Doe” had lived in several homes and Czerkawski got her online from a Craigslist ad.
Investigators said the dog was listed for free on Craigslist. The second woman who owned “Puppy Doe” provided police with valuable information and helped identify the dog, which led to search warrants. officials said.
Authorities think Czerkawski had the dog for around four months and that the abuse happened over a matter of weeks.
At a press conference on Monday, Quincy Police said Czerkawski had been arrested on Oct. 23 in New Britain, Connecticut, on the animal cruelty charges in connection with the “Puppy Doe” case and was returned to Quincy, Massachusetts, after his appearance in New Britain Superior Court on Monday.
“We took the matter very seriously. It was a grave concern to us. Our detectives have been working pretty much around the clock,” announced said Quincy Police Chief Paul Keenan.
“Animal cruelty charges are felony charges, and carry with them a five-year sentence,” Keenan added.
An assigned Assistant District Attorney and two Quincy police detectives have been working on the case since the dog was found near death at a Whitwell Street playground on August 31.
Czerkawski, who is in the U.S. on an expired tourist visa, was living next to the playground on Whitwell Street with an older woman at the time of the incident, police said, He was working as an elderly caregiver but wasn’t a licensed or registered. The woman died the same day “Puppy Doe” was found at the playground, according to police, but foul play is not suspected in the woman’s death.
“Puppy Doe” had to be put down to the extent of her injuries, which included starvation, burns, stab wounds, broken bones, a spinal fracture, dislocated joints, and torture-type injuries, which included splitting the dog’s tongue.
Veterinarians at the Animal Rescue League of Boston who treated the dog said in a report that the dog weighed half what she should.
“It’s hugely difficult [to investigate],” Keenan said. “We had an abused animal that couldn’t speak for itself.”