LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Two men have pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges, stemming from a December 2009 incident involing a Yorkshire Terrier puppy that was left to die in a dumpster.
The men, identified as Carlos Viruel and Luis Viruel, have each been ordered to pay a $500 fine, $200 in court costs, $50 for cost of prosecution, restitution to Animal Services for medical care and treatment and six months probation. In addition, they'll each serve 15 days in the Lee County Sheriff’s work program, along with 50 hours of community service.
The case unfolded on December 23, 2009 employees at Bonefish Grill in Bonita Springs called Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) when they found an injured and bleeding dog inside the restaurant’s dumpster. The responding officer immediately took the Yorkshire terrier to be examined by Animal Services’ veterinarian. She was diagnosed with injuries from blunt force trauma to the head, ear and eye. The 8-month-old dog was immediately placed in foster care to recuperate during treatment.
Several days later, Zoe Morales contacted LCDAS to see if her dog was at the shelter. She had been told by her boyfriend, Carlos Viruel, that her Yorkie had died in an accident and he and his brother, Luis Viruel, had buried her. Later he told her the dog was taken to the Animal Services’ shelter.
During the investigation, the men admitted that they took the dog with them while on an errand to pick up a grill being donated to them by Bonefish Grill where Luis Viruel was employed. When loading the grill into their van, they dropped the grill, pinning the dog underneath. When the men saw blood coming from the dog’s head they told officers they thought she was dead and put her in the dumpster until they could come back to get the body and return it to Morales.
Tiny, as the little dog is now known, recovered after her treatment and was adopted into a new home. Anyone who would like to help other victims of animal cruelty may send a tax-deductible donation to the Animal Care Trust Fund, 5600 Banner Drive, Fort Myers, FL, 33912. Donations may also be made online at LeeLostPets.com.