A Middle Island man was arrested Thursday and charged with breaking into a nonprofit animal shelter and stealing a 10-week-old puppy, police said.
Justin Geiger, 23, of 602 Lake Court, was charged with third degree burglary, in a break-in Wednesday night at Friends of Freddie Pet Rescue, 210 Middle Country Rd., Middle Island, police said.
The purebred Rottweiller was found in good condition when Geiger was arrested at his home about 2:40 p.m., police said, and the dog was returned to the pet rescue location.
Barbara Fanelli, director of Friends of Freddie, said that the group rescues dogs that are in imminent danger of being euthanized, and works to have them adopted. "We don't sell dogs for profit," Fanelli said. "Donations and adoption fees are how we do what we do."
Those adopting a pet usually pay a fee that covers implanting an identification microchip, neutering or spaying, and other veterinary care, for a total cost of about $150 to $350, she said.
Geiger was in the shelter the day before the burglary, admiring that particular puppy, Fanelli said, but he never filled out the application form with references that is required before a dog can be adopted.
But the next day, after the overnight break-in was discovered, the group was were able to give police enough information about Geiger for them to locate him, she said.
Det. Sgt. Edward Aki, of the Sixth Squad, which made the arrest, said it did not seem that Geiger, who is unemployed, was interested in the puppy for profit. "He liked it. He just liked the dog," Aki said. "He called him Lucifer."
Fanelli said the dog was not previously named, but she was going to go along with the name the police gave him -- Handcuffs.
Geiger was to be arraigned Friday in First District Court, Central Islip.