NIAGARA FALLS — Two men are facing felony animal cruelty charges in a pair of horrific, unrelated cases.
Michael L. Freeman, 72, 4117 Washington St., and John Pichcuskie, 58, 114 63rd St., are each charged with one count of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Pichcuskie was arrested after a multi-week investigation into the death of his Siberian Huskie Roscoe.
A 67-year-old city resident contacted police on July 21 to report that he had found an injured Huskie outside his home on the 500 block of 87th Street and the dog appeared to have been hit by a car.
“He called and said the dog had been hit and he had it in the back of his truck,” Animal Control Officer Dave Bower said. “I told him to take the dog directly to the SPCA (of Niagara) and that I would contact them.”
Bower said the dog was dropped off at the Lockport Road shelter a short time later. He said a veterinary tech who treated the animal called him with concerns.
“She said, ‘Dave this dog was not hit by a car.’,” Bower recalled. “She said there were maggots coming out of every part of his body. The maggots were actually eating him from the inside out. And he was very emaciated.”
SPCA staff were able to keep Roscoe alive for three days before he finally succumbed.
“This was one of the worst cases I’ve ever had,” Bower said.
In his report on the incident, Bower wrote that “this dog suffered a slow, painful death as a result of the actions of the dog’s owner.”
Bower went back to the man who claimed to have found the dog and told him his story about a hit and run didn’t match the evidence. He confessed to Bower that Pichcuskie was the dog’s owner and that he had paid him $20 to “get rid of the dog.”
Under questioning by Bower, Pichcuskie said the dog had ingested rat poison put out by his neighbors.
Bower said there was no evidence the dog had been poisoned.
At the same time Pichcuskie was being charged on Monday, a Lewiston woman called police to report that she was driving north on Lewiston Road and a man in the car ahead of her was throwing kittens out of his passenger-side window.
The woman said the man threw the kittens out of the window one at a time and she saw two of them “twitching and wiggling” after hitting the pavement. After calling police, the witness said she began honking her horn at the man in an effort to get him to stop. She also took a photo of his license plate while they were at a stop light.
Lewiston police responded and stopped Freeman on Lewiston Road at Norwood, and when police arrived, the woman positively identified Freeman as the man who was throwing kittens from the car.
She told police she thought there may have been more kittens thrown from the car that she did not see.
Police and an SPCA investigator ffound one of the kittens dead on the side of the road. There was no sign of the other two kittens.
Under questioning, Freeman denied having any cats or kittens in his car.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge and bail was set at $250.