An Illinois man is wanted in Wisconsin after he allegedly killed his friend’s dog and pretended to be its owner while dog sitting.
Javier Franco was supposed to watch Andy Mena’s dog for three days earlier this month while Mena and his girlfriend were out of the country.
Mena and Melissa Gomez were in Ecuador when the pair said they received a “cryptic” phone call from Franco. The couple said they were told Mena’s truck was towed off Interstate 94 in Kenosha and their dog was taken to an area pound.
But when they called authorities to find out what happened, they quickly realized that wasn’t the case.
Police said an officer noticed Mena’s truck on the right shoulder of the interstate in Kenosha just before 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 11. Inside, was Mena’s dog Ares, a 1-year-old American pitbull terrier.
The officer at the scene opened the door to try to rescue the dog but “once the door was open, a huge gush of hot air hit [him] from inside, as well as a strong odor of wet dog.”
The deputy “shook the dog vigorously” but it was not breathing and “there were no signs of life,” police said in a criminal complaint, noting that the dog’s leash was attached to a harness that was caught between the center console and the passenger seat.”
“There was very little slack and it would have been impossible for the dog to get up to the front compartment of the truck and possibly be seen by passing motorists,” the complaint stated.
It was 79 degrees that day in Kenosha, according to authorities, and there was no water inside the car.
“It is apparent that the dog suffered greatly before dying from the extreme heat inside the vehicle,” the complaint states.
Police looked up the vehicle’s info and contacted a man they thought was Andy Mena, but turned out to be Franco impersonating Mena, they said.
Franco told authorities the truck ran out of gas or broke down on the highway near the Bristol Renaissance Faire. He said he parked the car on the shoulder and ran to the fair to get help.
Once there, Franco said someone gave him a ride to get gas but when he went back to look for his truck it was gone. He then asked where the dog was and said “that’s my little buddy.”
Police said Franco was gone from the vehicle for about an hour and a half. He signed police paperwork with the initials “A.M.”
Later, Gomez called police looking for information on her dog, which she thought had been taken to a pound after the truck was towed.
"What really happened is [Franco] left the car there because it broke down. He left all the windows rolled up. The car ran out of gas and he never ever decided to take the dog,” Mena told NBC affiliate station TMJ4.
“He was fighting until the very end and that's what bothers me the most,” Gomez said.
Police later determined the man they thought was Mena was actually Franco, who lives in Joliet.
An arrest warrant was issued for Franco, who was not in police custody as of Wednesday, according to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department. Police said they submitted charges to the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office for mistreatment of animals causing death and obstructing an officer.
Mena said he wants justice for his dog.
"How could you do that to me? My dog was like my kid,” Mena said. “I said, ‘We will never be friends again.’ In fact, I will do whatever it takes to seek justice to Ares."