Police say they've arrested an animal shelter worker for allegedly placing a dog inside a plastic bag and throwing it into a commercial Dumpster on Long Island on Christmas Eve.
Michael Papini, 30, of Lindenhurst is charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, animal abandonment and other charges in the case, Suffolk SPCA detectives say.
The 1-year-old dachshund mix was discovered in the trash at a gas station early Tuesday. Officials think the dog chewed its way out of the bag.
SPCA detectives say the female pup, who has been named Noelle because she was discovered on Christmas Eve, had been given to Papini to bring to the Town of Islip Animal Shelter. The owner gave the dog to Papini, who worked for the shelter, because she could no longer take care of her.
The SPCA said Saturday night that Papini also allegedly dumped another dog, a miniature poodle named Bailey, out of his car last week, and the organization is offering a $500 reward for information on Bailey's whereabouts.
Noelle had severely matted and dirty fur when she was found, but is otherwise in good health. She is now being cared for by the Town of Islip Animal Shelter, which has suspended Papini.
A gas station surveillance video taken nearly 24 hours before the dog was found showed a person, believed to be Papini, carrying a plastic bag that appears to contain a box and placing it in the Dumpster.
"The dog was placed in a cardboard animal carrier and put in plastic garbage bags that were tied up," said George Whalley, a detective with the SPCA. "The dog had to chew his way through and that's how he was able to be heard."
Kevin Zabawski, the man who discovered the pooch in the Dumpster, told NBC 4 New York, "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."
Papini was held on $250 bail Saturday, according to the SPCA.
The Islip Animal Shelter released a statement Saturday saying Papini's actions were not representative of the shelter.
"This troubling incident in no way reflects the loving and caring treatment for all animals from our many dedicated staff and volunteers," the statement read, in part. "Mr. Papini has been immediately suspended without pay for this alleged act which disturbs all of us at the Town of Islip."
The dog is being housed at the shelter because they can't put her up for adoption until her original owner gives her up.
Information on a lawyer for for Papini was not immediately available.