Unforgivable Actions

Columbus, OH Firefighter pleads guilty to animal cruelty after brutally killing his two dogs

By Barbara Forcier, Best Friends Network volunteer

Firefighter David P. Santuomo, 43, plead guilty to two charges of animal cruelty and one count of possessing criminal tools on Wednesday, June 24, 2009.

All three are misdemeanor charges and he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, a $150 fine, 200 hours of community service, restitution of $4,500 and he will be prohibited from owning pets or firearms for five years. Random home inspections will be performed to assure he is compliant.

The judge in the case also orderd Santuomo to write a letter of apology to a firefighter"s magazine and to readers of the Columbus Dispatch. Santuomo will be permitted to serve his jail time in 10-day stints over a two-year period.

The entire incident began December 7, 2008 when Santuomo and his girlfriend planned on leaving for a cruise. Not wanting to pay boarding fees for their two dogs, Sloopy and Skeeter, that he had adopted from the Capital Area Humane Society shelter in January 2007, Santuomo literally executed the dogs in his basement with a 22-caliber firearm.

Santuomo placed the dogs in plastic garbage bags and threw their lifeless bodies in the dumpster behind his place of employment, Columbus OH Fire Station 27 at 7560 Smoky Row Road. He then bragged to his fellow firefighters about his executions of the dogs and even made jokes about it. He showed no remorse at the time and continues to display no distress over what he did. Even going so far as to raise his middle finger at the news media assembled to cover his case in court.

Santuomo"s fellow firefighters were disgusted by what he had done and the Columbus, OH Capital Area Humane Society was called to investigate. From the beginning, Santuomo lied about what had actually happened. To cover his tracks he sent text messages to his children and ex-wife explaining that the dogs had both consumed antifreeze on Thursday December 4 and he was only trying to end their suffering.

After humane-society agents retrieved the dogs from the dumpster, Santuomo repeated the antifreeze story to Kerry Marion, Chief Humane Agent for the Capital Area Humane Society. He stated that he did not have enough money to take the dogs to a vet, but this story did not add up. Necropsies on both dogs were performed and no traces of any substances were found in the animal"s bodies and the cause of death was determined to be the actual shootings.

A search warrant for Santuomo"s home late last year showed that Santuomo had sent several text messages bragging that he was going to shoot his dogs instead of paying for their boarding during his vacation. No additional information is available on the messages.

The Columbus Division of Firefighters has completed an internal investigation concerning the matter. Columbus Ohio Fire Chief Ned Pettus Jr. will make a decision on possible job loss or reprimand.

Columbus Firefighters Union president Jack Reall said he was surprised by the detailed sentencing and that rapists are sentenced to less. Local 67, the firefighters union said the misdemeanor crimes were not an issue of job performance. Santuomo a 12 year veteran, Remains on active duty at this time.

For More Information

Read about the link between animal abuse and violence

Read the news article about the case

How you can help

1. Write a letter and send or Fax it to:

Columbus Ohio Fire Chief, Ned Pettus Jr

3639 Parsons Avenue

Room #146

Columbus, Ohio 43207

Fax: (614) 645-4284

What to say

• Let the Chief know this action impacts the faith and trust we place in our community police and firefighters.

• That this fact should be taken into consideration when considering whether to fire or disipline Mr Santuomo.

• That we as a nation can no longer turn our backs on animal cruelty. That all life should be valued and how Santuomo appears not to hold these values.

• That you support and applaud the efforts of the local Firefighters who reported this incident to authorities.

• That you support and applaud the efforts of the Columbus OH, Capital Area Humane Society in this case.

2. Write a letter and send or Fax it to:

Columbus Area Capital City Humane Society

3015 Scioto-Darby Executive Court,

Hilliard, OH 43026

FAX (614) 777-8449

What to say

• That you support and applaud their efforts in this case.

• That we as a nation can no longer turn our backs on animal cruelty.

3. Send an email to:

A. Columbus Professional Fire Fighters

IAFF Local 67

Jack Reall

Local President


What to say

• That the actions of Mr. Santuomo do affect his job performance and is not to be taken lightly.

• That the image, trust, and faith of Fire Fighters everywhere and IAFF Local 67 are seriously damaged by this tragic event.

• That Mr. Reall"s statement that rapists receive lighter sentences than that handed down to Mr. Santoumo is very inaccurate and degrading to the legal system, the image of the Fire Fighters, and IAFF Local 67.

Image from Wikimedia

Posted by Cheri Moon, Best Friends Network editor

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