A 29-year-old transient who allegedly stole a van containing a Studio City family's dog, which was found dead inside the vehicle when it was recovered, was charged today with auto theft and cruelty to an animal.
Danny Fis was expected to be arraigned sometime this afternoon at the Van Nuys Courthouse, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Fis was arrested around 7:45 p.m. Friday in the 4100 block of Whitsett Avenue, one block north of Ventura Boulevard, police said.
He was arrested in a parking lot outside the Weddington Golf and Tennis Club, where the van was abandoned, after he was spotted by the dog's owner while he was being interviewed by a local television station.
The minivan was stolen around 3 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Ventura Boulevard and Whitsett Avenue, police said. Van owner Nayo Mateo said he had gone into a store to get his wife and young daughter, leaving the van running with the air conditioning on, and when he walked back, the vehicle was gone.
The family's 10-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, Maru, was sleeping inside the van. The family had raised the dog from a pup, Mateo said.
Around 5 p.m. Aug. 19, the van was found in the 4100 block of Whitsett Avenue, not far from where it was taken, and the dog was dead inside, police said. Investigators said the van's windows were rolled up, meaning the animal likely died from the heat.
Fis remained jailed in lieu of $45,000 bail.Fis is due back in Van Nuys Superior Court Sept. 10, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
—from City News Service
* Also see:Video to be Released Friday of the Guy Sought in the Death of Maru