Donald Ruben, 42, of 254 12th St., Niagara Falls, turned himself over to authorities Wednesday morning, ending the search for the owner of three abandoned dogs, including a puppy that the SPCA of Niagara dubbed "Jonah."
Police said Ruben walked into the Niagara Falls Police station at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, because he had been following the media coverage of Jonah's story and knew police would be seeking his whereabouts once an arrest warrant was signed.
The Niagara County SPCA and Niagara Falls Police removed three dogs from the 12th Street apartment on June 30 after receiving reports of animal neglect. The dogs were found emaciated and living in deplorable conditions. The youngest of the dogs, a 7-week-old puppy named Jonah, was in critical condition when found. He was rushed to the shelter for treatment and later to a veterinary clinic where he died July 3.
"Jonah's tiny body had begun to shut down even before NFPD and the SPCA found him. Unfortunately, that damage could not be reversed," said Amy Lewis, SPCA shelter director.
The puppy weighed only 3 pounds and should have weighed between 10 and 12 pounds, she said.
Ruben faces three counts of animal cruelty for the abandonment and neglect of the three dogs.
"We are pleased with the news of an arrest in this case. We are on the road toward justice for Jonah. Jonah's death saddened us all and brought about a brief sense of helplessness, but knowing that his owner is in police custody and will be tried for his neglect reassures us that we are not helpless in this fight," Lewis said. "The public response from Jonah's death has created a shockwave that can be heard at the far ends of Niagara County and beyond. It is our hope that the public's outrage will not fall on deaf ears when Donald Ruben stands before a judge, and that Jonah's death will not be in vain. Fighting animal abuse and neglect is at the heart of our mission as an SPCA. We will be assisting the authorities in every way we can."
SPCA Board President Michelle Madigan said: "I am pleased with the arrest of Donald Ruben. Jonah was a beautiful, living, breathing soul and deserved to be treated with love and care, not to be abused and left to suffer and die. Animal cruelty will never stop until the law includes justice for animals as well as people."
Lewis said the two adult dogs rescued along with Jonah are both doing very well at the shelter. The female of the pair, Nellie, came to the shelter about 10 pounds underweight, and has already put on weight. Both Nellie and Dorian, the adult male, will be put up for adoption once police give approval. A lot depends on the court proceedings, Lewis said.
Anyone who is witness to animal cruelty or neglect in Niagara County is urged to call 716-731-4368, ext. 307. If you have a complaint outside of SPCA investigation hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, call the local police department.