Andrew Manesis, DVM, of the Bronx in New York City, was arrested May 25 for allegedly dumping 35 pet carcasses along the Hutchinson River Parkway in Westchester County.
The investigation began April 5 when New York Department of Transportation employees were mowing grass and cleaning brush. They found the remains of 26 cats, eight dogs and one South African lizard, says Kieran O'Leary, public information officer for the Westchester County Police.
Most of the bodies were in advanced states of decay, O'Leary says, but seven cats had died recently. Necropsies performed on those cats revealed that they had all been euthanized or died of natural causes?there were no signs of animal cruelty.
Most of the animals were wrapped in garbage bags, but one of the recently dumped cats was in a shoebox the cat's owner had used to transport the body to Manesis' clinic. The shoebox was traced to a Las Vegas seller and the buyer was identified, which led police to Throggs Neck Animal Hospital where Manesis practices, O'Leary says. Police later found a second owner whose pet had been dumped and are hoping more will come forward.
O'Leary says the victims paid Manesis for a company to pick up their pets and perform group cremation. When detectives utilized a search warrant to obtain and analyze Manesis' records, they found no indication that he had interacted with any group cremation company for the past six to eight months. The detectives concluded that this was probably how long Manesis had been dumping the bodies.
"Dr. Manesis was entrusted by his clients to dispose of their pets' remains in a proper and dignified manner," says Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth in a public statement. "Instead, it appears he simply pulled off to the side of a local highway and tossed the animal carcasses into the woods."
Manesis is charged with four misdemeanors--scheme to defraud in the second degree, violation of environmental conservation law and two counts of petit larceny. The number of petit larceny charges could increase if more victims come forward.
Manesis was released May 25 with orders to appear on June 5 in Harrison Town Court in Harrison, N.Y .