Prosecutors: Pit bulls 'roasted to death' after abandonment; couple surrenders

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MINEOLA -

A couple accused of leaving their dogs to die in a cage outside the North Shore Animal League of America turned themselves in Thursday morning to the Nassau District Attorney's Office. 

Prosecutors say two 3-year-old pit bulls named King and Becki "roasted to death" after being abandoned and left in direct sunlight on a hot July day.

Steven Rivera, 28, and Diana Rodriguez, 33, both of Jersey City, were charged with abandonment and injuring animals. Their bail was set by the judge at $125 each. 

Jed Painter, the chief of Nassau's Animal Crimes Unit, says the couple rented a U-Haul in Jersey City and drove to Port Washington to leave their pets near the no-kill facility. While he acknowledges they may not have intended to kill the dogs, he says they are still responsible.

"While we have safe haven laws for children and babies, we don't have any for animals," says Painter. "The message is you really have to be responsible."

Silvia Ottaka, with the North Shore Animal League of America, says if a pet owner can no longer care for an animal, they should contact them. 

"Go to your local municipal shelter, they are there to help you," says Ottaka. "You never want to leave an animal abandoned somewhere…you want to bring them to safety, it's the humane thing to do."

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