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Case ID: 19578
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
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Thursday, Apr 5, 2012

County: Westchester

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Andrew Manesis, DVM

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Patricia Coleman loves animals, but in her job as an animal control officer for the Town of Clarkstown she frequently must cope with injured or dead animals.

She's seen a lot in her years in the job, but even she was shocked by Thursday's discovery of more than 30 animal bodies found dumped on the side of an entrance ramp to the Hutchinson River Parkway in Harrison.

"I was horrified that people could do something like this," said Coleman. She's heard of similar occurrences in the southern part of the United States, but not in suburban New York.

Dr. Brian Green of the Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital was also shocked when he learned of the gruesome discovery, which included finding bodies of cats, dogs and even a Monitor Lizard.

"From what I've read and heard the conditions appear such that much of them were healthy," said Green of the Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital. "They were in some sort of really bad kill shelter, which is extra unlikely, or someone was trying to sell these animals and couldn't."

Green said he was particularly disturbed that police suspect the dumping has been going on for some time.

"I've heard they will be conducting necropsies on the animals to find out the cause of death but I'm not sure what that will do," Green said. "There's so little known. It's pretty gruesome."

Coleman said she suspects that the animals may have been dumped by a contractor paid by veterinarians to bring deceased animals to a crematorium. Coleman theorized that the contractor may have simply dumped the bodies and pocketed the money that would have been paid to have the animals cremated.

While she does not think investigators will have much luck tracking the dumpers through the remains of the cats and dogs, Coleman said the discovery of the lizard's body is unique and could possibly be the best clue for Westchester County police.

Brian Bradshaw, operations manager at Hi Tor Animal Care Center in Pomona, said he has never seen anything like this dumping incident before.

"If something like this happens, animal shelters will reach out local animal control and nearby shelters," Bradshaw said. "They can help piece clues together."

Marcy Rydd of Pets Alive Westchester in Elmsford said the team there was shocked to learn of Thursday's discovery.

"Westchester county is made up of wonderful people who are loving and extremely dedicated pet owners, and we are proud to support and be a part of such a wonderful community," Rydd said. "We have full faith that the authorities will solve this crime quickly, because the people of Westchester and beyond will rally to help."

Dana Rocco, shelter manager at the New Rochelle Humane Society, couldn't believe what she'd originally heard about the animals.

She played different scenarios in her mind about who could have done such a thing.

"Was this a hoarder who let things get out of control?" Rocco said. "If the person had access to a veterinarian, they could have been bringing the animals to a hospital and couldn't afford a proper burial."

She said the bigger question is what happened to these animals before they were euthanized.

"Were they animals that were potentially abused and then dumped?" Rocco wondered. "That is the biggest fear in my mind. Were these animals abused?"

Ernest Lungaro, SPCA of Westchester's director of humane law enforcement, said he is currently with Westchester County detectives on the case.

"We are doing a joint investigation because it is a possible animal cruelty and we have 35 animals that were dumped on the side of the road," Lungaro said. "There were 35 animals - 8 dogs, 1 lizard and 26 cats. They were left in black plastic bags on the side of the road by the Hutchinson entrance-way."

Lungaro said five of the animals were brought for necropsies based on the belief that these animals were euthanized.

"We don't believe it was a hoarding situation or one of owner of all the animals...they had separate pet owners," Lungaro. "The pet owners [probably] brought their animals, cat or dog, to a facility that euthanized them and that facility improperly dumped these animals."

Lungaro said the SPCA has been receiving tips from the public related to this incident.

Westchester County Police are investigating the incident along with the SPCA. Anyone with any information about the incident is urged to call 1-800-898-8477 or e-mail tips@wccops.com. The 24-hour SPCA animal abuse hotline in Westchester is 914-941-7797.

If you have information on this case, please contact:
Westchester County Police
tips@wccops.com
1-800-898-8477


Case Updates

A Bronx veterinarian has been charged with dumping 35 euthanized animals on the side of Westchester Avenue, The Journal News has learned.

Andrew Manesis, a resident of New Canaan, Conn., who owns Throggs Neck Animal Hospital, was arrested Friday afternoon on two counts of petit larceny, scheming to defraud and a violation of environmental code, all misdemeanors, said Ernie Lungaro, chief of the SPCA of Westchester. He was released pending a June 5 appearance in Harrison Town Court.

"Dr. Manesis was entrusted by his clients to dispose of their pets' remains in a proper and dignified manner," Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth said. "Instead, it appears he simply pulled off to the side of a local highway and tossed the animal carcasses into the woods."

Menesis' vehicle was pulled over by the SPCA and Westchester County police as he was driving through Port Chester on Interstate 95.

He is accused of taking payments to properly dispose of the animals, then dumping them alongside the Hutchinson River Parkway over a period of several months.

Two victims have come forward to police, but the SPCA and Westchester county detectives are continuing their effort to determine the owners of the other animals that were found along the highway. Anyone with information can contact detectives at 1-877-220-3560. The county police also accept tips by text and email at tips@wccops.com.

The carcasses " 26 cats, eight dogs and one South American lizard " were discovered April 5 near the westbound entrance ramp to the Hutchinson River Parkway by a Transportation Authority worker, officials have said.

The animals were found in garbage bags and were in various states of decay, authorities said, noting that several bags had been caked in dirt and weeds and appeared to have been dumped many months ago. At least one animal was believed to have been dumped just days before the gruesome discovery.

"It's appalling, nothing of short of that," said State Assemblyman Steve Katz, R-Yorktown, who owns his own Bronx veterinary practice. "I deal with this every day, and I could never dream of doing something like this."

The normal protocol when an animal dies or has to be euthanized is to tag it with identifying information and store it in a freezer on site, Katz said. Twice weekly, a reputable cremation company he has used for 20 years removes the animals and cremates them communally. At an owner's request and added expense, the remains can be cremated individually and returned.

Some veterinarians handle cremation themselves, Katz said, but he doesn't. The aim, however, is always to handle the process according to the owners's wishes and expectations.

"That's what we go out of our way to do, to make it easy on the clients," he said.

To do otherwise is simply wrong, in his view.

"They're betraying the client-pet-physician bond, and they're also sullying the name of ethical veterinary medicine," Katz said.

Katz said he does not know Manesis personally, only professionally, but said he had a good reputation. His alleged actions, said Katz, represent the "tiniest fraction of vets in this field (who are) motivated only by love and compassion for animals."

Investigators determined early in the investigation that the animals had been euthanized because several of the carcasses displayed marks consistent with the practice, authorities said. None of the animals showed any signs of abuse or neglect and appeared to have been well-cared-for in life, authorities said.

As the investigation progressed, officials publicized a picture of a white cat that had been found in a blue shoe box at the scene and received a break in the case when the owner of the cat came forward. The owner has been joined by at least one other owner claiming to have turned his pet over to Manesis for disposal.

Lungaro said the fraud may have begun a year ago, when Manesis changed his contract with a pet disposal company. Before then, he had been sending animals to the company for cremation on an individualized and group basis. For dogs cremated individually, owners are given the ashes of their pet. For ones cremated in groups, owners can get a mix of ashes from several animals, if they wish.

"About a year ago, he had this company stop taking his group cremations," Lungaro explained. "We believe that's where this started. Maybe the owner didn't necessarily want the ashes back, and he would dump them in Harrison."
Source: lohud.com - May 29, 2012
Update posted on May 29, 2012 - 10:22PM 

References

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