A Massachusetts man who had been caring for his ex-girlfriend’s family dog said the animal died, and that he had buried it.
But when 24-year-old Richard Piquard told that story to a friend who offered to care for the dog on Sunday, she became suspicious, according to police — and she uncovered what really happened to the pet when she looked under a rock in the woods, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
“I said, ‘What do you mean he passed away? How is that possible?’” said Kaylee Belanger, the friend who got a text from Piquard reporting the dog’s death, Boston 25 reports. “Something in my gut was telling me something was wrong, that he just wasn’t telling me the truth.”
So Belanger headed to the woods near Piquard’s home, where he said he’d buried the pet, an 18-year-old Shih Tzu named Chico, she said in a phone interview with McClatchy.
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That’s where Belanger’s suspicions were confirmed: She found the dog buried under a rock but still alive, police said, and then she called to report the incident just after noon on Sunday, NECN reports.
“My fiance screamed ‘he’s breathing, he’s alive,’ ” Belanger said, describing the scene, according to WHDH. “It was awful. He was crying, wheezing, and covered in dirt. His mouth was completely full of dirt.”
The dog was also in agony, she told WHDH.
“He couldn’t move his neck and when he tried, he screamed in pain,” said Belanger, according to WHDH.
Piquard, a resident of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, was arrested Sunday on animal cruelty charges, according to a Northbridge police Facebook post. He was set to be arraigned Tuesday after being released from custody on $1,000 cash bail, NECN reports.
Police said the dog was taken to a veterinary office, but was euthanized, the Boston Globe reports.
Belanger said Piquard has a new kitten, and that the cat and dog weren’t friendly with each other, Boston 25 reports.
“I just don’t understand how somebody can do that to an animal and then go home and go to sleep at night snuggling their new kitten,” said Belanger, according to the TV station.
That cat is now in the care of Piquard’s parents, the Telegram & Gazette reports.
“In my 41 years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Northbridge Police Chief Walter Warchol, according to WHDH.
Warchol said Piquard had been caring for the dog for more than a year — and had asked his ex-girlfriend to take the dog over and over again, though her new home barred dogs, the Telegram & Gazette reports. Warchol added that medical reports on the dog “refute the claim” that it was dead at the time of its burial.