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Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Cute and Furry, Some Say. A Beaten Dog, a Court Finds.

Published in The New York Times - September 1, 2006

Orders of protection are not unusual in New York courts, but one issued yesterday by a Queens judge to protect a 5-year-old is believed to be the first of its kind, according to an animal society special agent.

The 5-year-old is a dog, Bebe, a bichon frisé from Lindenwood.

The order, signed by Judge Alex J. Zigman of Queens Civil Court, says that Frederick Fontanez, 20, a friend of Bebe’s owner, Derek Lopez, must maintain a distance of at least 100 yards from both the dog and Mr. Lopez.

Animal lovers hailed the court order.

“Very often, abusers use animals to get at the people they are abusing and animals get caught in the middle,” said the special agent, Joseph Pentangelo of the law enforcement department of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “They know that the pet might be dear to the person they are abusing.”

The order is believed to be the first of its kind under legislation signed by Gov. George E. Pataki in July extending court orders of protection to pets in abusive households. Part of the legislation’s aim is to promote awareness that the reach of domestic violence often extends to pets.

Investigators said Mr. Lopez has not indicated that he himself was beaten, although Bebe’s injuries were consistent with abuse.

Early on July 20, Mr. Lopez left for work, leaving Bebe alone in his apartment in Lindenwood with Mr. Fontanez, according to a criminal complaint. The two men quarreled that day, investigators said.

When Mr. Lopez returned that evening, he found that Bebe cried when he touched him, and had extensive bruises on his back, thigh and eye, the complaint said. A neighbor later reported hearing a commotion and Bebe’s cries that afternoon.

Mr. Fontanez, who lives in the Bronx, was arraigned yesterday on a single charge of torturing and injuring an animal, a misdemeanor that carries a fine of $1,000 and/or a year in jail, said a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown. Mr. Fontanez was released on his own recognizance.

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