A Franklin Square man who left a dog to die of heat exposure was arraigned Thursday on misdemeanor animal abuse and abandonment charges, prosecutors said.
Levon Johnson, 66, appeared before Judge Joseph Girardi and was released on his own recognizance, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
Johnson is due back in court on Oct. 11. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 1 year in jail.
“When you bring an animal home from a shelter, breeder, or pet store, you are choosing to make that animal a part of your family,” Singas said in a statement. “Abandoning a pet is a heartbreaking crime, especially when the abandonment results in death.”
Authorities said Johnson abandoned the dog, a 10-year-old terrier/Chihuahua mix, in direct sunlight, on a short leash, on a 90-degree day, on July 19 near the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter in Wantagh.
The dog, named Mr. Tango, later died of heat exposure, Singas said. She said that Johnson did not notify shelter personnel that the dog had been left latched to an exterior parking lot fence.
The dog, Singas said, was “already overheated” when it was discovered by shelter volunteers at least 25 minutes after being left at the scene.
Singas said that while Mr. Tango showed initial improvement under care, he later died of cardiac arrest from the exposure.
Johnson was arrested and charged, Singas said, after an exam revealed the dog had an implanted tracking chip.
Authorities then learned Johnson had owned Mr. Tango for more than 10 years, Singas said.
Johnson is represented by Legal Aid, which generally does not comment on cases.