An Orange County Fire Authority heavy fire equipment operator accused of shooting his pet dog in the head and throwing the dog's body in a dumpster at his fire station in Irvine was charged with felony animal cruelty, officials said Thursday.
Ryan John Monteleone, 44, of Menifee, a sworn member of the Orange County Fire Authority, was arrested Oct. 17 after a waste management truck driver found the dog's body in the station's dumpster on Fossil Road.
After an investigation by Irvine police, Monteleone was arrested.
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"Animals do not have the ability to call for help when they are being abused, making them especially vulnerable to violence," said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. "The abuse of animals will never be acceptable; this kind of conduct is even more egregious when the abuse is carried out by a public servant whose entire career is devoted to helping others."
Monteleone was charged with felony animal cruelty and a misdemeanor count of disposing of an animals' carcass on the road by the DA's office.
He is due in court Dec. 2.
He faces a maximum possible sentence of three years and six months if convicted as charged.
The OCFA said Monteleone will remain on duty while facing criminal charges.
"After review, we have concluded that Monteleone can continue to do his duties during this time, and poses no threat to his colleagues or the public," the fire authority said in a statement. "Monteleone is a heavy fire equipment operator for OCFA. Monteleone is not, nor has he ever been a firefighter."