A homeless man suspected of stealing a van with a dog inside and causing the dog’s death was sentenced to 16 months in state prison Tuesday after pleading no contest to vehicle theft and animal cruelty charges, the LA County District Attorney said.
Danny Fis, 30, was accused of stealing a van that was left running outside of a clothing store in North Hollywood on Aug. 17, 2013. Nayo Mateo, the owner of the vehicle, had left his 10-year-old yellow Laborador inside the van with the air conditioning running so that he could get his family from inside the store, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said Fis stole the van with the dog inside and later abandoned her with the windows rolled up.
Mateo said the dog, who he’s had since she was a puppy, was more like a child to him than a pet. The night of the theft, Mateo’s wife said their 2-year-old daughter (pictured) repeatedly asked, "Where is Maru?"
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Days after the theft, the van was found with the dog still inside. The family pet had died from heat exhaustion.
A spokesman for the District Attorney's office said Fis will serve his time in county jail because of California's prison realignment law.
This article was updated on Sept. 5, 2014 to clarify Fis will serve his sentence in county jail due to the state's prison overcrowding reduction law, AB 109.