Dog being treated; Owner facing animal cruelty charges

LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – A man from Ludlow was arrested for allegedly beating his pet dog with pruning loppers, then dumping its body over a snow bank Thursday.

The dog, a one year-old Pomeranian named “Scrunchy,” is currently being treated for a fractured skull at Boston Road Animal Hospital, according to Sgt. Daniel Valadas of the Ludlow Police Department

Ricardo M. Costa, 40, of 31 Acorn Lane is charged with felony cruelty or maiming of an animal. He spent the night in Ludlow police custody, and pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Friday in Palmer District Court. He was ordered held on $2,500 bail/$25,000 surety. He is due back in court on March 4.

Sgt. Valadas said that around 7:00 Thursday night, police received a call from a woman who was shaken and upset.  She was not a witness or a bystander, but said that her friend had told her that Costa had killed his dog.

Officer Brian Shameklis was sent to the caller’s house, and was directed towards Costa’s home on Acorn Lane.

When Officer Shameklis arrived at Costa’s home, he saw blood in the snow of the bed of a pickup truck parked in the driveway, Valadas said.

Shameklis went to the front door and found three residents in the home, including Ricardo Costa, Valadas said.

When Officer Shameklis asked Costa about the whereabouts of his dog, he initially said he had given the dog away, but when Shameklis inquired about the blood he had seen in the driveway Costa admitted that he had killed his dog, Valadas said.

Costa lead Officer Shameklis to the garage and showed him how he had struck the animal in the head four or five times with a large set of pruning loppers.  There was blood, hair, and blood droplets leading to the overhead door.  There was also blood on the pruning loppers, Valadas said.

Costa stated he had killed the animal because it had defecated inside its cage inside the house, Valadas said.

Detective Allison Metcalfe came to help interview Costa.

Costa was arrested, but voluntarily agreed to show the Detective and Officer to where he had discarded the dog.

Costa lead them to a parking area near the Red Bridge State Park by the lower end of a power generation dam in the town of Wilbraham. Costa pointed to where he had thrown the dog over a snow bank, Valadas said.

Officer Shameklis and Detective Metcalfe immediately crawled over the snow bank and saw a black dog laying in the snow. They initially thought the dog was dead, but when they called out and approached the dog, they found it still alive and moving.

Shameklis and Metcalfe grabbed the dog and rushed it to Boston Road Animal Hospital in Springfield.

Ludlow Police Chief Pablo Madera called this an unusual case of animal cruelty. “It’d be somebody leaving their dog out overnight in the cold. Somebody would call and go and ask them to bring the dog in because the neighbor is concerned. Or I intended animals that are left somewhere without food and water. But nothing like this.”

Massachusetts state law regarding cruelty to animals says that you cannot beat, maim, or try to kill a domesticated animal; regardless of whether or not you are the owner.

The MSPCA is following up with an investigation.

The State Police Crime Scene Services helped process the evidence at Costa’s home and where the dog was found.  The Wilbraham Police Department also assisted with processing the evidence at the parking area where the dog was found.

22News spoke with an employee from the VCA Boston Road Animal Hospital, who said that they could not release the condition of the dog, but added that there is a donation account being set up to help with the patient’s treatments.  You can make a donation by going to http://petchance.org/ and choosing VCA Boston Road Animal Hospital from the drop down menu and selecting “Scrunchy.”

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