Friday, June 26, 2009

Shouldn't happen to a dog

Why is this guy still a firefighter?

Why is he still on active duty?

Fireman kills pets to save on boarding
Prosecutor says defendant enjoyed 'thrill of the kill'

By Bruce Cadwallader - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

A Columbus firefighter admits that he took his two dogs to the basement, tied them up and blasted them with a rifle so he and a girlfriend could vacation without paying to board the animals.

"He said chunks of concrete were flying everywhere," Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Heather Robinson said.

"I think it was the thrill of the kill for him. He has shown no remorse for this."

Firefighter David P. Santuomo, 43, pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of animal cruelty and one count of possession of a criminal tool -- for taping a 2-liter plastic bottle onto the gun as a makeshift silencer.

He was convicted of "needlessly killing ... a companion animal" on Dec. 3, according to the charges filed 10 minutes before the hearing in Municipal Court. One dog was shot six times in the head.

Santuomo, who did not give a statement in court, will spend 90 days in jail, pay $4,500 to cover the cost of his investigation and serve five years' probation, Judge Harland H. Hale ruled.

"This is a travesty and abhorrent behavior to those in this community who work to save the lives of animals," said Jodi Buckman, executive director of the Capital Area Humane Society.

Santuomo adopted the two mixed-breed dogs from the humane society in January 2007.

Robinson said that Santuomo, of the Northwest Side, bragged to fellow firefighters about killing the dogs after he dumped the animals' carcasses in a trash bin behind his workplace, Fire Station 27, 7560 Smoky Row Rd.

"Fellow firefighters were disgusted by what he did, and the Capital Area Humane Society was called to investigate," Robinson said.

In text messages, he lied to his children and ex-wife about what happened to Sloopy and Skeeter, investigators said.

Santuomo, a firefighter since 1996, remains on active duty while awaiting a disciplinary hearing with Fire Chief Ned Pettus Jr.

According to Robinson, Santuomo laid down a plastic sheet in his basement and tied the dogs to a pipe, partially suspending their bodies. He shot them at least 11 times.

At first, he said the dogs were suffering after drinking antifreeze, but a necropsy proved that he lied, Robinson said.

The humane society would have taken the animals if Santuomo had asked, and two neighbors had offered to watch the dogs in his absence, Robinson said.

Hale also fined Santuomo $150 and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service. He must not have pets or weapons in his house for five years and must undergo random home inspections.

Hale agreed to allow him to serve his jail time in 10-day stints over two years.

Defense attorney Sam Shamansky said Santuomo will obey Hale's order to file a formal apology with a national firefighters magazine and with a letter to readers of The Dispatch.

"This was an isolated event not to be repeated and totally out of character for him," Shamansky said after the hearing. "He is extremely remorseful."

In the courtroom, Santuomo raised a middle finger to the reporters assembled to cover his case.