N. Aurora police continue investigation about caged, abandoned dog

Hercules' former owner could face charges

NORTH AURORA – Police in North Aurora have continued an investigation into why a rottweiler puppy was apparently abandoned in a small wire cage that was covered in feces with no food or clean water.

Heather Caminiti arrived at a townhouse to clean it on Nov. 1 after the tenant moved out. She ended up taking the dog – named Hercules – to a veterinarian and then to Chicagoland Dog Rescue, where he has since been placed with a foster family.

"As soon as I opened the garage door, there was a horrid smell of feces and urine," the Carol Stream resident and owner of Caminiti Cleaning had said in early November. "It was between 20 and 40 degrees in the garage, and [the dog] was lying on the concrete floor. You could count every bone in its body, he was so skinny."

The owner returned, presumably to take the dog while Caminiti was there, but she said he agreed to give it up to her.

North Aurora Police Chief David Fisher stated in an email that police had an appointment recently with the vet who cared for Hercules.

“I know this seems like it’s taking forever, but the investigators have large caseloads, plus trying to make appointments with everyone involved takes a little time,” Fisher’s email stated. “The original dog owner has yet to show up for an interview. At this point, I doubt he will come in.”

If the dog owner does not cooperate with the police investigation, Fisher’s email stated the next step would be to ask a judge to issue a warrant.

“The investigator will screen the case with an assistant state’s attorney,” Fisher stated in the email. “If they authorize charges, we will get a warrant. If they don’t, in all likelihood we would at least be able to get misdemeanor charges and charge him ourselves.”

The dog’s former owner could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, animal law attorney Cherie Travis said.

Abandonment of an animal is a Class A misdemeanor; leaving an animal to starve to death can be a Class 4 felony, she said.

The misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, if convicted. The felony is punishable by one to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000, if convicted.

Caminiti had said she believes the dog’s former owner should be charged.

"This is animal abuse and cruelty," she had said about Hercules' condition when she found him. "I want people to know that it is not OK to do this to an animal. If you're going to take an animal in as a pet, it becomes family. Would you lock your children up in a cage and let them eat their own feces? Animals can't speak for themselves, and there needs to be some sort of ramification."

Hercules remains with his foster family, who lives in Barrington, and the family is in the process of adopting him permanently. Caminiti has been in contact with the family and said Hercules' has gained a significant amount of weight since she found him, and that his health continues to improve.