“This was an incredible act of cruelty done to a defenseless animal,” Joan Anzelmo, superintendent of the Colorado National Monument, where the dog’s body was found with a rope around its neck, told The Denver Post.
On December 31, Steven Romero was arrested and charged with one count of aggravated cruelty toward animals. He is being held without bond in the Mesa County Jail. Today Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, was charged with stealing Buddy, who belonged to the Leber family of Delta, Colorado, from the bed of a pickup truck the day before he was killed.
Joe and Sasha Leber had rescued Buddy from an animal shelter over four years ago. The devastated couple spoke out about the crime for the first time yesterday to KJCT News.
“For this guy to take him, and torture him, and just do what he did to him, was unhumanlike,” Joe Leber said. The couple said the most difficult part is trying to answer questions from their three young children. “When they come to us and ask us, ‘Where’s buddy,’ what are we supposed to say? All we can tell them is that he’s gone.”
Outraged animal lovers are using the power of the Internet and social networking to demand that Romero gets the maximum penalty — three years in federal prison, a $100,000 fine and one year probation.
A Facebook page created last week called Demand Justice for Buddy has 28,850 members as of January 5. An online petition to the U.S. District Court in Grand Junction, Colorado urges that Romero be given the maximum sentence. As of today, nearly 18,000 people have signed the petition.
“I started crying as soon as the story came over my computer screen,” Betsy Gunderson, who helped start the Facebook page, told The Denver Post. “It’s so horrible, so unspeakable, so unbelievable; we reacted with our hearts.”
You can help demand justice for Buddy by signing the petition.
PHOTO: The Denver Post