Any instance of animal cruelty is horrifying, but it's nearly impossible to fathom a dog buried alive. But a Whitinsville man was in court Tuesday on a charge of animal cruelty for allegedly burying his dog alive because the pet didn't get along with a new kitten.
Richard Piquard, 24, was arrested Sunday after an acquaintance found the dog buried alive under about 3 feet of dirt and a rock behind the man's home. The Shih Tzu, named Chico, was rushed to an animal hospital but had to be euthanized due to his injuries.
"[Chico] was alive. While screaming and questioning how someone could do this I hurriedly removing him from the hole. He yelped in pain, dirt in every part of him. He felt flat like a pancake from the rock weighing him down in the hole," wrote Kaylee Belanger on Facebook. Belanger said she went searching for the buried dog with the intention of cremating him after a "suspicious" conversation with Piquard, who on the previous night told her the dog didn't get along with his 7-week-old kitten and that he "needed to get rid of Chico." On Sunday morning, Piquard texted Belanger to say Chico had "passed away" and was buried under a rock in the woods.
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Belanger said vets came to the decision to put the dog down after finding him to be malnourished and dehydrated, and in shock suffering from hypothermia as well as anemia due to the infection of fleas on him.
"He had matted and stained fur. And he was clearly being neglected before being buried alive," Belanger wrote.
Dog buried alive 'beyond the reach'
"Even in my 41 years here, I've never seen anything like it," Northbridge Police Chief Walter Warchol told the Telegram & Gazette. "We've seen other forms of animal cruelty. Burying something alive is a little beyond the reach."
Piquard was released Tuesday on $1,000 bail, and is due back in court on Oct. 26, the T&G reported. If convicted, Piquard could face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. He was ordered not to have any pets and will undergo a mental health evaluation.
The dog belonged to Piquard's ex-girlfriend, police told the T&G, and he had the dog for about 18 months after their breakup because the ex couldn't keep him in her apartment. The kitten is now in the custody of Piquard's parents.