Man Accused of Stealing Van, Leaving Dog Inside to Die, Pleads Not Guilty

A homeless man accused of stealing a van with a dog inside - and leaving the dog inside to die in the heat - pleaded not guilty Tuesday to vehicle theft and animal cruelty.

Danny Fis, 29, remained jailed on $45,000 bail, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 10.

Fis allegedly stole the van on Aug. 17 outside a clothing store in North Hollywood.

Van owner Nayo Mateo ran into the store to get his wife and daughter out of the store. He left his van running with the air conditioner on for his 10-year-old yellow Labrador, Maru, who was sleeping on the back seat.

When he came back outside moments later, the van was gone, and so was Maru, the dog he had raised from a pup.

Authorities found the van three days later. Maru was still inside with the windows rolled up.

Fis was arrested when he returned to the place where he abandoned the van, police said. NBC4 was there at the moment of his arrest.

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