Couple Arrested in Horrifying Case of Dogs Left to Die in Cage Near Long Island Animal Shelter

A man and woman from Jersey City who were moving to Florida dumped their 3-year-old dogs in a crate with little to no water near an animal shelter on Long Island, where the animals died within an hour as temperatures climbed near 90 degrees, authorities say.

Steven Rivera, 28, and Diana Rodriguez, 33, were arraigned Thursday on charges of abandonment of animals, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals and failure to provide sustenance. 

Authorities say the couple allegedly loaded the crated pups -- one a gray and black male dog named King, the other a tan female dog named Becki -- into the back of a rented U-Haul truck on July 31. A third person drove the truck, and Rivera and Rodriguez allegedly dumped the dogs in the driveway of a propane business near the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington.

Two workers at a nearby business found the 3-year-old pit bulls dead, laying next to each other in the single crate, about an hour later. Prosecutors say the animals were apparently alive when they were dropped and likely died of exposure. They say it was sunny and 88 degrees when they were dumped.

The crate provided no shelters from the elements and neither dog had signs of external trauma, officials said. Photos from the scene were too graphic to post unedited.

The Jersey City couple surrendered to the Nassau County district attorney's office Thursday morning following a three-week investigation.

“These two helpless dogs were left to die a horrific death when they were left trapped in crates in sweltering conditions,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “I thank our dedicated Animal Crimes Unit and the Port Washington Police Department for investigating this case."

Both Rivera and Rodriguez face up to two years in jail if convicted on all counts against them. Attorney information for them wasn't immediately clear.

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