ALLENTOWN, Pa. | Authorities allege that an Allentown man abandoned his dog in his apartment and left the gas stove turned for a month after moving out of the rental.
Allentown police charged Michael Melendez with animal cruelty and risking a catastrophe after a search of his North Jasper Street rental more than five years ago allegedly turned up a dehydrated dog and the stove burners turned on high. Authorities filed charges against the now 37-year-old in March 2014, and he was arraigned on Thursday by District Judge Michael D’Amore. It was not immediately clear why it took so long to arraign Melendez.
Allentown police were dispatched to a home in the 800 block of North Jasper Street on Feb. 25, 2014, to assist a city animal control officer and a code enforcement officer rescue a dog that had been left behind in the home.
Authorities forced their way into the apartment after the property owner’s former tenant, Melendez, changed the locks, according to court records. Once inside, police conducted a security sweep.
The animal and code enforcement officers alerted the property owner that Melendez allegedly left the four top burners on the gas stove running on high, according to police. He also allegedly removed the cover from a wall-mounted gas heater that was running at full blast, exposing the pilot light, authorities said.
The property owner said Melendez left the apartment, which is connected to neighboring homes, at least a month earlier.
On the second floor, authorities found the dog with no water and a bag of food it had ripped open. The dog ripped apart couch cushions and defecated all over the second floor, creating a health hazard for the dog and anyone else in the apartment, police said.
Animal control said the dog was dehydrated with its ribs showing, describing the animal as “lucky to be alive.”
Police charged Melendez with three counts of animal cruelty and single counts of risking a catastrophe and reckless endangerment. He was released from custody on $25,000 unsecured bail ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 7.