A missing dog up for sale on an animal rescue web site led police officers to a house where they found more than 50 dogs in “deplorable conditions”.
Police say they were tipped off when a family’s dog was reported missing. The owners then found a picture of their dog advertised for $350 on the Internet. They reported this to the police and officers went to investigate the home that was selling the dog.
Police officers said the house was littered with trash, animal feces and urine and that there was no water in the dogs’ bowls, and that many of the dogs were sickly.
Three people were arrested from the house: residents David Bernacchi, 44, and Karen Schleich, 45, and Kristin Beauchesne, 25, of Shirley. Bernacchi was charged with animal cruelty and Schleich was charged with possession of stolen property and animal cruelty. Beauchesne, an employee of Bide-a-Wee animal shelter, was charged with grand larceny for allegedly stealing a dog.
More information about the investigation after the jump.
Bernacchi and Schleich ran Lucky Fund which was supposed to be an animal rescue organization that found homes for stray and in need dogs.
Friends and nearby shopkeepers said the couple was only trying to rescue the dogs, that they constantly arrived with more packs of puppies collected from shelters in the tri-state area, Louise Castro, owner of a nearby laundromat, said.
“She lived for those dogs,” Castro said. “She loved them. She would never do anything to hurt them.”
A Bethpage woman who asked to be identified as Ilene said she knew the couple through her work with Lucky Fund, the purported rescue organization that Bernacchi ran.
She said Bernacchi had bankrupted himself to care of the puppies.
Authorities moved out all of the dogs in the house and they will be available for adoption.