By LINDA MOSS and ERIN ROLL
Montclair authorities are planning to bring animal-cruelty charges against a man who pulled a small dog out of a vehicle and hurled it into traffic in a road-road incident that went viral.
“This is the township of Montclair,” Liz Morgan, acting director of the Township Animal Shelter, said Monday morning. “Animal cruelty is not tolerated anywhere, but absolutely not here. He will be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.”
In the incident in question, a video posted Sunday on Reddit.com shows two men in a heated argument scuffling behind a white minivan and a red hatchback on Bloomfield Avenue near its intersection with Gates Avenue. The men are seen grabbing each other’s arms and shoving each other.
The older man yells “What’s your [expletive] problem?”
The younger man — a tall, thin redhead — goes to the minivan, opens the door, pulls out a brown dog and throws it out onto the sidewalk, and the people taking the video are heard crying out. The dog is seen running back toward the minivan as the red hatchback pulls away.
“Oh my God, why’d he do that to the dog?” a woman is heard exclaiming on the tape.
The video — which caused outrage from viewers — did not show what set off the confrontation. Both men in the video, the dog owner as well as the assailant, have been identified, Morgan said.
“People knew who he [the assailant] was and were very upset … that was such a violent act,” she said.
Citing a police report, WNBC-TV on Monday afternoon identified the older man as Gary Keay of Saddle Brook, while the younger man who threw the dog is Marc Dionne. The canine is a 12-year-old miniature pinscher named Daphne, WNBC reported.
Michele Shiber, who is township animal control officer as well as a New Jersey state-certified animal cruelty investigator, was slated to meet with the Montclair Police Department to coordinate and file whatever charges are necessary against the assailant, Morgan said.
“This is going to be very serious for this young man,” she said.
Shiber can conduct the investigation and write up any charges necessary as an animal cruelty investigator, according to Morgan.
“We’ll be taking the case,” she said.
Township Police Lt. David O’Dowd said Monday that the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) is working with Montclair authorities on the investigation. He said that if any charges are issued in the incident, it will be through NJSPCA.
Morgan said that she and other shelter officials spent time Sunday enlarging frames from the video to get a close look at both men involved, to try to discern what happened to the dog and to try to get the license-plate numbers of both vehicles. The numbers on the plates were clearly visible, according to Morgan.
“The video is absolutely horrible,” she said. “We were absolutely stunned by it. We spent a good 20 minutes enlarging it, enlarging it to ensure that the animal was OK. And you can see at the end of it the owner has the dog tucked under his arm, kind of like a football.”
Morgan’s understanding is that the dog was taken to the vet and sustained minor injuries.
“You can understand, not that it’s OK, but people lose their temper,” Morgan said. “It seemed like they had their argument and a little body slamming, and then were going back to their cars. To witness that violent act on that innocent creature was just a whole other level.”
Montclair police posted a statement on their Facebook page Monday regarding the incident.
“Montclair PD is aware of and is actively investigating the video depicting a suspected road rage incident,” the post said. “We would like to thank the public for all their efforts in bringing this matter to our attention.”
On Facebook some people said that Dionne worked at the local Mexican restaurant Tinga. When a reporter called the eatery and asked if Dionne was employed there, the person who answered the phone declined to comment.