2010-09-10 / Front Page

Popular Brooklyn Dog-Sitter Shut Down

By Nicholas Briano
Apopular Brooklyn dog boarding and grooming company frequented by many Rockaway residents has shut down operation after Humane Law Enforcement agents of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) arrested the co-owner for allegations of animal cruelty, officials said.

A Bark and Play van involved in a June accident on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street. A Bark and Play van involved in a June accident on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street. Matthew Soto, co-owner of “Bark and Play,” formerly located at 165 20th Street in Brooklyn was arrested on August 27 and charged with four counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

ASPCA officials discovered that numerous dogs boarded at the facility were living in unsanitary conditions, which included excessive urine and feces and extremely poor ventilation with no air conditioning during very hot June weather.

According to court papers, 18 dogs were allegedly in cages that were rusty and too small for the dogs. In addition, food and water had not been provided in any of the cages. Some of the dogs were allegedly suffering from open wounds as well. The dogs were emaciated and suffered from a variety of maladies caused by neglect including urine burns.

Two of the dogs, named Tango and Sweets, pit bull mixes, are at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital under the care of Dr. Robert Reisman, medical coordinator of animal abuse cases for the ASPCA.

“We understand that rescue groups would pay the facility to temporarily board dogs the rescuers hoped to eventually find homes for. However, several dogs had apparently been at the boarding facility for months,” ASPCA’s Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel for Humane Law Enforcement, Stacy Wolf, said in a statement.

Bark and Play had recently been in The Wave back in June when a stalled car caused a four-car pileup on Beach Channel Drive, sending five people and a number of dogs from the facility to various hospitals.

According to police, a car stalled on Beach Channel Drive near Beach 108 Street, but the sudden stop of the vehicle caused the pile up in which the Bark and Play van was the last in the line of cars in the accident. At least two of the dogs in the van were worked on by veterinarians Dr. Jay Rogoff and Dr. Alan Simon, who have an animal hospital nearby and rushed to the scene with some staff members. Eyewitnesses said that the dogs were stabilized and then transported to the animal hospital for further treatment.

Soto faces up to two years in jail if convicted and is due back in court on October 18 after being released on his own recognizance at Brooklyn Criminal court, according to a spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

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