A Long Island animal shelter employee was arrested Friday after he allegedly tossed a live dog into a dumpster at a gas station and may have abandoned another pup, Suffolk County animal cruelty investigators said.
Michael Papini, 30, of Lindenhurst, was arraigned Dec. 28 on a felony aggravated animal cruelty charge and other charges, including animal abandonment, authorities said. Papini, a kennel attendant for the Town of Islip Animal Shelter, was released from custody Saturday after posting $250 cash bail.
Suffolk County SPCA detectives said Papini had tossed the small dog, a Lhasa apso, into a dumpster behind a gas station in West Islip on Monday morning. Authorities obtained surveillance video from the USA Gas Station at 410 Montauk Highway and observed the driver of a dark-colored SUV leaving a black plastic bag into a dumpster behind the station.
SPCA Investigators were contacted after a Good Samaritan found the pup and called the police. Officers took the dog to an emergency animal shelter, where workers found a microchip in the dog and contacted her owner.
The owner reportedly told investigators she could no longer care for her animals and paid Papini $500 to take two dogs to the animal shelter where he worked. The second dog, a poodle, has not been found, authorities said.
Papini’s attorney, Mary-Elizabeth Abbate, told reporters Saturday that her client has no prior criminal history. “He’s never been in any kind of trouble whatsoever,” she said. “It seems to be totally out of character.”
A spokeswoman for the Town of Islip did not respond to an email requesting comment. Town officials told multiple news outlets that Papini has been suspended from his job.
UPDATE [12/28/13, 6:38 p.m.]: The Town of Islip released the following statement, which was posted on the animal shelter’s Facebook page: "The Islip Animal Shelter prides itself on its professional treatment of all pets that come through its doors. This troubling incident in no way reflects the loving and caring treatment for all animals from our many dedicated staff and volunteers. Mr. Papini has been immediately suspended without pay for this alleged act which disturbs all of us at the Town of Islip. From the beginning, the Town of Islip has cooperated with the SPCA in their investigation and will continue to support their efforts."