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NEPTUNE — Two Rottweilers died today after their owner left the dogs in a Dodge pickup for over an hour where they succumbed to heat exhaustion, authorities said.
Monmouth County SPCA police chief Victor “Buddy” Amato said the two dogs, Maximus and Joey, were left outside of MJ’s Pizza Bar and Grill on Route 66 in Neptune, while their owner, Charles Loguidice ate inside. The two animals, each weighing about 115 pounds each, were found dead shortly before 5 p.m.
“He claims he went into the restaurant and periodically pointed his remote control start at the car, thinking that the car was going to start and the air conditioning was going to go on,” Amato said.
But Amato said Loguidice’s story had several inconsistencies.
“He claimed that one (dog) hit the thermostat dial and it went from air conditioning to defrost,” Amato said, adding if that was the case, the air still would have been cool. Loguidice, 48, also said he was only in the restaurant for a half hour, but surveillance footage from the eatery showed it was closer to an hour.
Regardless, Amato said, “He left those dogs unattended when he was in the restaurant eating.”
With temperatures outside approaching 90 degrees, Amato estimated the temperature in the pickup exceeded 100 degrees.
The Freehold township man was charged with two counts of animal cruelty and could face six months in prison for each charge as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
“He’s gotta live with this. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s upset about it,” Amato said. “But it was a stupid act.”