Danny Fis, a transient in the Studio City area of Los Angeles, was arrested on Friday and charged with felony animal cruelty after the owner of the stolen minivan and Labrador retriever recognized the culprit during a television interview at the Weddington Golf and Tennis Club.
The Los Angeles Police Department had released a video of the suspected car thief earlier in the day.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Fis, 29, allegedly stole the dark blue Honda Odyssey with ten-year-old Labrador retriever, Maru sleeping in the back seat while owners Nayo Mateo, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter shopped in a children's clothing store just a few yards away. Mateo left his vehicle running with the air conditioning on for the comfort of his dog.
What makes this deed even more heinous is Fis allegedly admitted to knowing the dog was still in the car when he abandoned the minivan not more than a quarter of a mile from where he stole it at 12507 Ventura Blvd and Whitsett Ave. The vehicle was recovered a few days later at the 4100 block of Whitsett Ave. Maru was dead.
When authorities found the abandoned minivan the windows were all in the closed; Maru had most likely died of heat exhaustion.
Mutt Match L.A. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) offered a combined $7,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who stole the van and the dog. No information has been given concerning the person(s) who contributed to finding the suspect.
Fis is being held in jail in lieu of $45,000 bond.
Rest in peace Maru.
This heartbreaking story should serve as a tragic reminder not to leave any pet or child in an unattended running vehicle. Please leave your pets safely at home during the summer.
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