Colleagues of Dr. Andrew Manesis are struggling to come to terms with
allegations that the veterinarian from New York City dumped the remains
of dogs, cats and a lizard in woods along a Westchester County highway.
Manesis, 66, of the Bronx, faces four misdemeanor charges: two counts of
petit larceny and one count each of scheme to defraud and the illegal
disposal of animal remains. Each charge carries a maximum year in
prison. The veterinarian was arrested May 25 by Westchester County
Police but released because there was no judge available to hear the
case due to the holiday weekend. He is scheduled to appear June 5 in
Harrison Town Court where he will be arraigned and is expected to answer
to the criminal charges against him.
A call to Throggs Neck Animal Hospital, the Bronx practice owned by
Manesis, was picked up by voice mail. A message from the VIN News
Service was not returned.
Members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), an online community
for the profession and parent of the VIN News Service, conveyed disgust
and surprise upon reading local news reports
about the allegations.
Some looked for motives, surmising that the veterinarian had fallen on
hard times and perhaps couldn’t pay his crematory bill, while others
expressed doubt that Manesis could be to blame.
“Wouldn’t it be possible that it was the crematory service that did this
or a disgruntled employee?” asked Dr. Karen Comer of University Place,
Wash., in a message board discussion
. “… I find it difficult to believe that a veterinarian would
dispose of animals in this way.”
So did Westchester County detectives, said Kieran O’Leary, spokesman for the police department.
“Our detectives were surprised in the end that the person allegedly
involved was the veterinarian himself,” O’Leary said. “He probably would
have been our last bet. We thought the odds were it could come down to
an employee or a (crematory) service.”
However, records seized by police during a search of Manesis’s practice
showed that the veterinarian hadn’t used a crematory service in the past
six to eight months as he had previously, O’Leary added.
According to police records, authorities had been investigating the
dumping of animal carcasses along the northbound Hutchinson River
Parkway in Harrison, N.Y., since April 5, when workers conducting
routine maintenance along the highway discovered black trash bags
Most of the 35 animal bodies found were in an advanced stage of
decomposition, but seven cats appeared to have been more recently
dumped. One cat was contained in a shoebox that originally held a pair
of shoes purchased online. Detectives, with assistance from the store
selling the shoes, were able to trace the cat's owner through the bar
code and SKU number on the box.
“We tracked down the owner, and she said, ‘Yes, that’s my cat,” O’Leary
stated. The cat reportedly died at home, and she gave its body to
Manesis for disposal, O'Leary added.
Another cat dumped at the site was traced to its owner via a microchip.
Necropsies of the remains revealed that the animals had died of natural
causes or were euthanized.
“This wasn’t an animal welfare case,” O’Leary said.
In a news release
, Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth
chastised the accused veterinarian for allegedly defrauding owners who’d
paid between $100 and $315 to have their animals cremated or otherwise
“Dr. Manesis was entrusted by his clients to dispose of their pets’
remains in a proper and dignified manner. Instead, it appears he simply
pulled off to the side of a local highway and tossed the animal
carcasses into the woods,” he said.
While unusual to have a veterinarian at the center of such controversy,
Dr. Bill Folger, a board-certified feline practitioner in Houston,
reminded his colleagues on VIN that illegal practices involving the
disposal of animal carcasses is not new.
“In an infamous scandal here in Houston, a low-cost spay/neuter clinic …
was filmed dumping dead animals in the dumpster out back of their
clinic. The investigative reporter for the ABC affiliate here had a
weeklong investigative piece on their practices,” he said.
In February, a NBC affiliate in Virginia reported
the arrest of two men
for allegedly dumping the bodies of 150 calves in a field.
Last week, authorities in Nelson County, Va., reported
dead animals floating down a river, leading them to suspect that someone
had illegally dumped the carcasses.