Thanks to the diligence of the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) department, justice will finally be served to the man who allegedly threw his ex-girlfriend’s small dog to her death. The incident occurred on September 14, 2007—a year ago this week.On that day, Farah Benoit returned to the Brooklyn apartment she had shared with former boyfriend Sherman Haynes to collect her belongings, including her three-year-old shih tzu, Zahara. Haynes would not allow Benoit into the building and began tossing her possessions—including clothing and a heavy cabinet—out of his third-floor window. Witnesses stated that Haynes grabbed Zahara by the throat and then threw the canine to the sidewalk below.
Benoit rushed Zahara to Manhattan’s Animal Medical Center, but with multiple broken legs, collapsed lungs and internal bleeding from the impact, the 15-pound dog soon succumbed to her injuries.
Haynes fled, and for a year avoided both the NYPD and HLE investigators seeking to question him. However, HLE continued to work the case, striving to pinpoint Haynes’s location. His use of a social networking website, plus information from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, ultimately led ASPCA Special Agent Peter Rivas to the door of Haynes’s new Manhattan apartment, where he was arrested on September 5, 2008.
Haynes was arraigned the following Friday and charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a felony. He also was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless endangerment of property, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief. The NYPD slapped him with an additional charge of aggravated harassment for an unrelated incident. Haynes, 27, faces up to seven years in prison for the combined charges.
“This case is another sad example of a pet being used as a pawn for revenge in a domestic violence situation,” says Joseph Pentangelo, Assistant Director, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “We see this all too often. I urge anyone leaving an abusive relationship to take their pets with them or place them, at least temporarily, with family or friends. Do not leave them behind, where they become easy targets.”
In an effort to address the high incidence of pets being harmed in domestic violence disputes, about a dozen states—including New York—have passed laws allowing pets to be included in orders of protection. Read more about the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.