22 Mar 2010
Spike, a defenseless puppy, remains under medical care two weeks after being beaten with a shovel and thrown against the ground by his owner.
East Elmhurst neighbor and eyewitness Alvin Lau captured the abuse on his cell phone’s video camera on Wednesday, February 24, as owner and alleged suspect, Maria Aguilar, 36, inflicted injuries on the 11-month-old English bulldog.
Lau called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which transferred Spike to its Manhattan hospital.
“If this witness had not reported this cruelty to the ASPCA, Spike may well have continued to suffer abuse at the hands of his owner,” said ASPCA assistant director Joseph Pentangelo. “It is a crime that someone would do this to a defenseless pet.”
ASPCA special agent Deborah Ryan arrested Aguilar, 36, on Friday, March 5, at the 115th Precinct, after Aguilar turned herself in and the ASPCA’s “investigation yielded sufficient probable cause to support that arrest.”
According to Ryan, Aguilar admitted that she threw Spike and hit him with a shovel. She has been charged with felony interference with or injury to certain domestic animals, and two misdemeanors: criminal possession of a weapon and “Over-driving, torture and injury of an animal or under-feeding.”
In 2008, the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) unit, which upholds and enforces NY State animal cruelty laws, investigated 5,227 reported cases of animal cruelty, made 78 arrests, and rescued more than 400 animals.
According to Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief legal counsel of the HLE, though the number of investigations and arrest decreased, at least one third of the 2009 arrests have been for felonies.
“In recent years, cases have shown recognized links between violence to animals and violence in families,” said Wolf, who oversees 22 licensed Peace Officers with power of arrest. “People who go through the trouble to torture and create suffering may be doing it to human victims, too.”
Rhonda Windham, an anti-cruelty veterinarian at ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital on 92nd Street in Manhattan, said Spike’s veterinary medical records indicated he had been seen at least nine times by a clinic in Woodside between June 2009 and February 2010 for surgical and ophthalmologist consultations.
Part of Spike’s laundry list of physical abuse includes: a neck fracture; blindness in his right eye and injury to limbs that have cause lifelong lameness and some degree of pain in his joints, according to Windham, who added that Spike has sustained multiple injuries consistent with blunt force trauma.
The cruelty to Spike has shaken another East Elmhurst resident, Maria Orzo, who volunteers with the organization, Neighborhood Cats, that controls the cat population through the trap-neuter-return method. Orzo said she can’t get Spike’s suffering off her mind.
“She hit him and the little animal just cried. Just thinking about what happened to that poor dog is hair-raising,” said the animal-lover, who has seen the video of the abuse on the Internet. “I have two puppies that look like him and when I look at the photos, I just start to cry.”
Let’s hope this case of dog abuse send out a message to all pet owners to be loving and understanding owners in as much as we would expect our pets to love us back.