SAD: Thief Steals Minivan With Golden Retriever In Backseat; Abandons It; Dog Dies Locked Inside


Police have arrested the man they believe is responsible for letting a family pet die inside the minivan he stole and abandoned.

The suspect, identified in a police report as Danny Fis, 29, was taken into police custody Friday night after the owner of the dog saw him while doing an interview with a local television station at Weddington Golf and Tennis Club in Studio City. The club is the same location where the car was abandoned several days earlier with a 10-year-old Labrador named Maru inside.

Nayo Mateo, the dog’s owner, was at the club to be interviewed about Maru when he saw a man nearby that looked like the suspect in surveillance video released by police earlier that day. He called police and Fis was arrested a short time later.

That surveillance video showed the suspect in the shop of the club, where he told employees he was leaving his car in the parking lot to get towed. The man allegedly stole the dark blue Honda Odyssey from a shopping mall parking lot at Whitsett Avenue and Ventura Boulevard, just a few blocks away from where the car was later found.

Mateo left the air conditioner running while he entered a store in the mall to get his family Aug. 17, leaving his dog inside the van. When he returned, the van and Maru were gone. The Odyssey was found two days later in the parking lot of the golf and tennis club with the windows rolled up. The dog had died inside the van of heat exhaustion, police said.

Animal groups had been offering rewards totaling $7,000 for the suspect’s capture.

According to police records, Fis is being held on $20,000 bail and is facing felony animal cruelty charges.

Fis was described by police as a transient known in the area.

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