A 37-year-old man has been identified as the owner of a dog abandoned and left to starve inside a vacant apartment for several weeks.
Hojin Lee, whose last known address was in the 9000 block of Terrace Drive in Niles, was arrested March 13 on animal cruelty charges. He was released on a $10,000 I-bond following a bond hearing before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Marcia Orr on March 14, a spokeswoman from the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office stated.
On Feb. 22, a maintenance worker at Terrace Square Condominiums discovered a severely malnourished dog inside a vacated apartment. The animal did not appear to have food or fresh water, and had what the worker described as “mushrooms” growing from its eye area, police said.
Niles Police Sgt. Robert Tornabene said an investigation of eviction proceedings involving the tenants of the apartment led police to identify Lee as the owner of the dog, a westiepoo mix named Bruno.
Lee was taken into custody at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, but police did not indicate if he was a patient, employee or visitor at the hospital.
Police have not said how long Bruno was left alone in the apartment, though the tenants are believed to have been evicted around Dec. 31.
When asked if Lee made any statements about why he allegedly abandoned the dog, Tornabene declined to comment.
No further details of the alleged crime were shared during the bond hearing, according to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
Bruno was taken to a Skokie animal hospital where he spent time recovering.
“He is doing very well and has been adopted,” Tornabene said.
The dog is also “very close to what would be considered a healthy weight,” the sergeant added. When discovered, Bruno weighed just 8 pounds, though a normal weight for his breed would be closer to 25 pounds, Tornabene said.
If convicted of animal cruelty, Lee faces a jail sentence of up to one year and a maximum fine of $2,500.