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Man pleads not guilty to cruelty after dog dies in stolen van

August 27, 2013|By Kate Mather

A transient pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of animal cruelty after he allegedly stole a van with a dog inside and abandoned the vehicle, leading to the animal's death.

Danny Fis, 29, also pleaded not guilty to one count of unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. His bail was set at $45,000.

Prosecutors and police allege that Fis stole a Honda Odyssey on Aug. 17 when the vehicle's owner ran inside a Studio City clothing store to get his family. The vehicle was parked outside, with the engine and air conditioner running and the dog inside.

When the man returned, officials said, the vehicle was gone.

It was discovered two days later in a Whitsett Avenue parking lot a few blocks away, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The dog was dead inside, with the vehicle's windows rolled up.

Investigators determined that the dog died of heat exhaustion, police said. Both Mutt Match L.A. and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered rewards in the case.

Fis was arrested Friday near a Whitsett Avenue golf course, police said, in the same parking lot where he allegedly left the van.

The owner of the dog — a yellow lab named Maru — told NBC4 that he exchanged words with Fis as he was being led away by police.

“I just told him that he’s going to pay for what he did,” Nayo Mateo told the television station.


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