Ian Kassof, 36, of Valley Stream, was arraigned Wednesday on animal cruelty charges. He was released without bail after appearing before a judge at Nassau First District Court in Hempstead and has been ordered to return to court next month. If convicted of the misdemeanor offense, Kassof could spend up to a year behind bars.
Prosecutors said Nassau County police officers found Kassof’s dog, a pit bull-boxer mix, unresponsive around 2:30 p.m. on June 4 after responding to a call of a dog locked in a car. The animal, which appeared to have suffered a stroke, was found dead on the front seat of Kassof’s car, according to authorities. Preliminary autopsy results showed injuries consistent with a seizure by overheating, the district attorney’s office said.
Kassof had adopted the pup from the Town of Hempstead animal shelter about six months before. Authorities said his car had only the rear passenger window cracked about four inches. There was no water bowl in the vehicle.
Prosecutors believe Kassof had taken the dog with him to work and then left the pup in the car. His defense lawyer, Anthony Rattoballi, told Newsday that Kassof had left all of the windows in his car down about five inches and walked the dog and gave it water at lunchtime. He said his client “didn’t know the dog was in danger” and said Kassof, a utility worker, is “as upset as any other dog owner would be.”
“Opening a car window a few inches is not enough to prevent tragedies like this one,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said. “This owner should have known better than to trap his dog for hours in his car without adequate ventilation or water. A parked car on a hot day, even with a window cracked open, is a potentially deadly place for any living thing.”