A New Jersey man has been charged after he allegedly abused his dog and tried to raise money for its treatment through a GoFundMe page.
Reid M. Herjo, 24, was pulled over by police on Jan. 22 for speeding. He told police that he was taking his 14-week-old German Shepherd, Atlas, to a veterinarian because the puppy had been hit by an all-terrain vehicle. But a few days after, police got information that Herjo had harmed the dog on purpose, leading to an investigation.
Investigators said Atlas that was in the suspect’s care for a six-week period and suffered severe injuries in at least two additional incidents before the alleged ATV accident. When asked about the pre-existing injuries, Herjo had told police that the dog had fallen down stairs also fallen down a hill, but police were not convinced.
They alleged the dog died “under suspicious circumstances as there was evidence Atlas sustained additional trauma.”
Along with the alleged abuse, police say Herjo set up a fraudulent GoFundMe account to raise money for emergency surgery for the pup. On the page, Herjo claimed that he and the dog were involved in a hit-and-run accident, reported USA Today. The page racked up $14,065 through about 700 donations over 28 days.
On Feb. 3, Atlas died from numerous fractures and hemorrhaging, according to investigators, reported NJ.com. Herjo closed the account the day after Atlas died.
A GoFundMe spokesperson told the news station that Herjo had violated its terms and conditions, and had since been banned from the platform. He also said that the company would refund everyone who donated to Herjo’s page.
“Misuse is extremely rare on our platform,” the spokesman told USA Today.
“Campaigns with misuse make up less than one-tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue.”
The spokesman added that the company were assisting authorities with the investigation.
Herjo was charged with animal cruelty and theft by deception on March 28.