An Orange County Fire Authority employee who was charged with shooting his 4-year-old pit bull and dumping the canine's carcass in a trash bin at his workplace in Irvine accepted a plea Wednesday that ordered him to perform 250 hours of community service.
Ryan John Monteleone of Menifee, 46, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of putting a carcass of a dead animal on the road. As part of the plea deal, a felony count of cruelty to animals was dismissed and he was placed on three years of informal probation and must complete the community service by April 1 of next year, according to court records.
Monteleone could have faced up to 3 1/2 years in custody if convicted at trial.
Monteleone worked as a heavy fire equipment operator for the fire authority for four years and was not a firefighter, Colleen Windsor, a spokeswoman for the OCFA, said when he was charged in November 2019.
He remained on duty at that time, but it was not clear if he is still on the job.
He was arrested by Irvine police on Oct. 17, 2019, according to Kimberly Edds of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.
A Waste Management trash truck driver found the dog's body inside the trash bin at a fire station on Fossil Road in Irvine on Aug. 9, 2019, Edds said. The dog had been shot in the head, she said.
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Monteleone's attorney, Rod Pacheco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The defendant's attorneys filed a motion in January of last year to dismiss charges based on an argument that he killed the dog at his ranch home, so the case should have been filed in Riverside County.
Monteleone's wife told investigators that the family adopted the canine about a year before the dog was killed, but that the animal had attacked a donkey and an Amazon driver and killed a pet cat, according to the court filing.
The family previously had to put down another pet and the bill was "significant," according to the motion. The family at the time was "suffering severe financial restraints," so the couple decided to kill the dog, according to the motion.
The couple discussed "the challenge they faced, a dangerous pit bull that attacked pets, livestock and people, the presence of their young sons and their inability to afford a sizable veterinarian bill for putting the dangerous animal down," the attorneys said in the court papers.
So Monteleone "took the pit bull into their barn and shot the dog one time," according to the motion.
The following day he took the dog's body to a dumpster near his workplace at an Irvine Fire Department Station and dumped it, the attorneys said.