A Wyandanch man has been charged with animal cruelty after two of his dogs — one who authorities said was tethered in such a way that he could have strangled to death — were found in a padlocked garage on an abandoned property, an SPCA official said Tuesday.
According to a Suffolk County SPCA news release, Nathaniel Sutter, 40, was charged Sunday with misdemeanor animal cruelty for “failure to provide necessary sustenance and care” to the dogs.
SPCA Chief Roy Gross said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the dogs are an 8-month-old male pit bull and a 7-month-old female Shih Tzu-Maltese mix. He said it was the pit bull that was “tethered to an object in the garage in such a way that it could have choked itself out.”
Gross said the garage where the dogs were kept is in Dix Hills and appears to be on the property of a vacant and boarded up “zombie house” on Kenmore Street.
A Huntington Town employee cutting grass nearby on Wednesday heard the whining and crying of one of the dogs and called the town animal shelter, which contacted the SPCA, Gross said.
“It’s a small garage that was padlocked and appeared to be on the abandoned property of a zombie house,” Gross said. “The pit bull’s tongue was hanging out and he was trying to bark but couldn’t. The other dog was running around loose and there was garbage and all sorts of junk piled all over the place.”
Gross said there were empty bowls in the garage that were apparently for food and water for the dogs.
“They were totally dry — no food, no water,” Gross said. “If we hadn’t gotten there in time I suspect the dogs may have succumbed either from starvation or choking.”
Gross said an investigation by SPCA detectives led to Sutter and his arrest on Sunday; Gross declined to provide details about how Sutter was determined to be the owner of the dogs.
Sutter, who Gross said did not live on the property or own it, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gross said the dogs were being kept at the Town of Huntington Animal Shelter.
“After they’re evaluated I hope they’ll get good homes,” Gross said.
Sutter is scheduled to appear in First District Court in Central Islip on Dec. 14 to answer the charges.