Lehigh Valley

Police: Owner left two puppies to decompose in 'garbage dump' room

Dogs were given no vet care, food or water

WASHINGTON TWP., Pa. - A Slate Belt man is facing animal cruelty charges after authorities allegedly found two dead puppies in a clutter-filled room described as a garbage dump.

District Judge Alicia Zito arraigned Gage Ruiz Monday afternoon on neglect and cruelty charges after he allegedly failed to provide any veterinary care and left the dogs to decompose in the filthy room. She released the 18-year-old on $15,000 unsecured bail.

Washington Township police were dispatched on July 1 to a home in 600 block of Richmond Road to conduct a welfare check on puppies that were believed to have died days earlier and were still inside the house.

The homeowner told an officer there were two puppies in the home and that at least of them was dead, according to court records. She told police that the dogs were in the bedroom belonging to Ruiz. It's not clear from court records the relationship between Ruiz and the homeowners.

When the officer pulled back the curtain on the bedroom, he was greeted by up to 3 feet of garbage and clutter on the floor that nearly buried the kennel in which the dogs were kept, according to records. The officer described the room as smelling like animal feces and a garbage dump.

The owners were asked to take the cage outside. Authorities said there were 2 to 4 inches of feces and garbage inside along with the two dead mixed-breed puppies, Dufas and Drake. The officer said there no food or water bowls in the cage or bedroom. The puppies were born in December 2018.

The homeowners told police that the puppies belonged to Ruiz. He had left the house and returned about a week later, confirming the dogs were dead. He allegedly dug two holes in the backyard but left the puppies in his room to decompose.

It's not clear from court records when Ruiz last checked on the puppies.

The homeowners told police that they didn't believe the dogs were ever seen by a veterinarian or received rabies vaccinations.

Authorities charged Ruiz with two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. He also faces two counts each of cruelty to animals, animal neglect and failing to vaccinate the dogs for rabies. His next court date is a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 23.


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