A homeless man searching a Long Island gas station dumpster for food on Christmas Eve found a tiny dog. She had been placed in the dumpster in a tied trash bag but apparently was able to chew her way out. He immediately called police to get the dog some help. NBC4 NY identified the man as Kevin Zabawski and spoke with him about the incident:
“I just happened to look to the side and there was a face looking at me. There was this dog in there, and I thought ‘Who the heck would leave an animal like that in the Dumpster?’ It’s way too much for me.”
The answer to Mr. Zabawski’s question turns out to be: a public animal shelter employee. Michael Papini, a kennel attendant at the Town of Islip Animal Shelter, was seen on surveillance video dumping the dog into the trash bin. Members of the public later identified him after local TV news outlets aired the footage.
After being saved from the dumpster, the little dog was taken to a vet and then to the Town of Islip Animal Shelter. Investigators did not know at the time that one of the shelter’s employees was the person they were seeking in connection with the case. When it was determined the dog had a microchip, Suffolk Co SPCA investigators paid a visit to the registered owner. She explained that she knew Michael Papini and that he had offered to take the dog to the shelter since she was no longer able to take care of the pet. The owner paid Papini for his service. He then allegedly tied the dog up in a plastic garbage bag and dropped her in the dumpster at the gas station. Investigators report the former owner was very upset after learning what Papini had done with her dog.
“A dog like that is so easily adoptable,” [Suffolk Co SPCA chief Roy] Gross said. “How could he do that? . . . This is like a planned act of animal cruelty.”
Papini was charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, misdemeanor animal abandonment and other charges and is scheduled to be arraigned today.
The one year old dog, now being called Noelle, is friendly and in good health, despite being left for dead in the dumpster for 18 hours. Dozens of people have applied to adopt her from the shelter where she is receiving care. Noelle is alive today thanks to the kindness of Kevin Zabawski. I hope he too has something to eat and a warm place to sleep tonight.
Thank you once again to the so-called irresponsible public for saving animals from those paid to protect them.
(Thank you Clarice for the links.)
Update, added December 29, 2013: The shelter employee was allegedly paid $250 (CBS NY reports it was $500) by a woman he knew to take her two dogs to the shelter. Those dogs were Cherry, whom he tied in a trash bag and tossed in a dumpster, and Bailey, who is currently missing. Bailey is described as a cream colored, male, miniature poodle. Authorities say Michael Papini allegedly turned Bailey loose from a parked vehicle on Cooper Street in Babylon Village about 7 a.m. on Dec. 23. The Suffolk Co SPCA is offering a $500 reward for information leading to Bailey’s recovery.
If you live on Long Island, please keep an eye out for Bailey. There are no publicly available photos of him as far as I know but he may look something like the dog pictured on this page, although he is possibly dirty and matted, like Cherry.
Papini posted $500 bond and is free, pending trial. I see that extra cash came in useful for him.