MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Franklin Square man has been arrested for allegedly abandoning a 10-year-old Terrier/Chihuahua mix near the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter on July 19. The dog later died from heat exposure.
Levon Johnson, 66, was arraigned today before Judge Joseph Girardi on charges of Overdriving, Torturing, and Injuring Animals (an A misdemeanor) and Abandonment of Animals (an Unclassified misdemeanor). The defendant was Released on His Own Recognizance and is due back in court on October 11. If convicted on all counts, the defendant faces a maximum jail sentence of one year.
“When you bring an animal home from a shelter, breeder, or pet store, you are choosing to make that animal a part of your family,” DA Singas said. “Abandoning a pet is a heartbreaking crime, especially when the abandonment results in death.”
DA Singas said on July 19 between 12:00pm and 12:20pm, the defendant drove to the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter with a friend and allegedly tied his 10-year-old Terrier/Chihuahua mix, named Mr. Tango, to an exterior parking lot fence with a short leash. The defendant did not notify shelter personnel that he left the dog outside.
The dog was left in full exposure to sunlight and the approximate temperature outside was 90-degrees Fahrenheit. The dog was already overheated when it was discovered by shelter volunteers between 12:45pm and 1:00pm. A veterinary exam revealed that the dog had an internal temperature of 107-degrees. After initially improving under veterinary care, the dog died of cardiac arrest believed to be brought on by intense heat exposure.
It was later found that the dog had an implanted chip which allowed investigators to track down his owner, the defendant. The defendant had owned Mr. Tango for more than 10 years.
The defendant surrendered to NCDA investigators this morning.
Assistant District Attorneys Carissa Danesi and Helene Weiss of DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit are prosecuting this case. The defendant is represented by Legal Aid.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.