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Tag: staten island

Thief returns dog’s ashes to owner

The thief who stole a package containing a dog’s ashes from a woman’s front porch in Staten Island has returned them, along with a note of apology.

Gloria Johnson said a box containing the ashes of her Yorkie, Dakotah, was returned to her home Tuesday morning with a note from the thief.

“Dear Mam,” the note begins. “I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused you. I wanted to bring back to you what’s dear to you and to me.

“My mind was mesed (sic) up without my mental medication and I feel bad. I love dogs and I made sure I placed him in a rose basket for the time being until I could return him where he belongs!!!”

Johnson told the Staten Island Advance Tuesday she was “ecstatic” to have Dakotah’s ashes back.

Surveillance footage obtained from Johnson’s neighbor showed a man enter her gate after the package had been dropped off by Fed Ex on July 27.

What happens when he approaches the porch can’t be seen, but he walks back into view with his backpack in his hands, walks out of the gate and leaves on his bicycle.

Johnson learned the ashes had been stolen after checking with her vet to see why they hadn’t arrived. She was told they had been delivered the previous week.

After seeing the surveillance video from a neighbor’s home, Johnson searched the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking questions and checking inside trash cans to see if the thief might have tossed the package after seeing what was inside it.

Dakotah died from complications after a possible stroke.

“I go outside a hundred times a night to see if maybe someone put him on the fence,” Johnson, a widow, told the Advance in an interview after the theft. “After my husband died he was the one I hung on to every night.”

She had bought a crystal ash box for the dog’s cremated remains that she planned to fill and place on her mantle, alongside those of her husband.

In a plea for the return of the ashes, she added, “It matters to me that I have him, that I can talk to him. I’m not coping well.”

It’s not known if the thief saw the initial news reports, but apparently he had a conscience, and three weeks after the theft the box was returned.

“Got a little bit of faith in humanity,” Johnson told ABC 7 in New York.
“But still, he held it for three weeks. He didn’t throw them in the garbage, that was my fear, he’d just open it up and throw them in the garbage because it didn’t mean nothing to him.”

Johnson said the ashes were returned on what would have been Dakotah’s birthday.

Baby Girl’s owners sue city, police officer

The grieving owner of Baby Girl, the 2-year-old pit bull killed by police on Staten Island earlier this month, is suing the city and the officer who fired the shots.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was being filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday, the New York Daily News reported.

Baby Girl’s owner, Patricia Ratz, took her and two other pit bulls for walk at Schmul Park on April 6.  When the two other dogs — Bo and Missy — began snapping at each other, Ratz intervened and was bitten.

Police say she was screaming for help when an officer arrived.

The lawsuit says more than 10 shots were fired at the dogs, one of which hit Baby Girl, who was running away from the ruckus, in the back. She died five days later. Police say the officer, who is still on active duty, fired seven times when the dog charged her.

Ronald Kuby, the attorney for Ratz and her fiancé, says he hopes the lawsuit will bring about changes in police policies.

“We are seeking to fundamentally change the way the NYPD deals with pets,” he said. “When a dog is fleeing the scene, it’s because the doggie is afraid, not because the dog is concerned about getting arrested. That’s the reason people flee, not doggies.”

(Photos: A photo of Baby Girl posted at a memorial for her at Schmul Park in Staten Island; Patricia Ratz and fiancé Pat Guglielmo, along with their dog Bo; by Mark Bonifacio / New York Daily News)

NY man charged with killing Chihuahua

chihuaA Staten Island man was arrested this week for fatally beating his girlfriend’s 5-pound Chihuahua, apparently because the dog had bitten him days earlier, police said.

Or, as the New York Post  put it, “Brute Bashed 5-Lb. Dog to Death: Cops.”

Frank Coppola, 28, allegedly beat the 3-year-old dog, named Bella, on Feb. 28 at the Staten Island apartment he shared with his girlfriend.

Police said it took six months to arrest him because his girlfriend, Melissa DePietro, was reluctant to testify against Coppola. Prosecutors convinced her to testify before a grand jury, which, along with graphic medical evidence, proved enough for an indictment.

A necropsy performed on Bella showed the dog had suffered severe trauma to its chest, internal bleeding, several broken ribs, a ruptured jugular vein and bruised lungs, investigators said. According to the Post, the dog had bitten Coppola days before the fatal beating.

When asked by a veterinarian what had happened, Coppola claimed the dog had run into a wall and collapsed.

Coppola was charged with animal cruelty, and faces up to four years in prison. He was released on $2,500 bail.

“This a very serious crime. It’s not every day that an animal-cruelty charge goes before a grand jury, but obviously we thought this case was serious enough to take that step,” said Bill Smith, a spokesman for District Attorney’s office.