Man Charged with Felony Animal Cruelty for Starving Friend's Dog to Death

March 5, 2015
Twitter: @GeorgeGascon
Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931
Maxwell Szabo, (415) 553-9089


SAN FRANCISCO – An animal abuse case investigated by the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) has resulted in felony animal cruelty charges for a San Francisco resident. A necropsy conducted by a PHS/SPCA veterinarian showed that the dog, a young Bichon Frise, died of starvation.

“Complete disregard for the health and wellbeing of an animal is criminal,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “If you cannot care for a pet you have an obligation to contact authorities and ensure the animal does not suffer.”

“We cannot begin to imagine the suffering this dog experienced,” said PHS/SPCA President Ken White. “The only positive we can take from this is knowing the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office treats animal abuse cases as seriously as we do.”

PHS/SPCA was notified on December 21, 2013 about a dead dog dumped near Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica. The dog was found in a shoe box with a small plush toy and folded towel. The responding officer scanned the dog as per normal procedure and detected a microchip which linked to a dog, “Penny” and an owner living in San Francisco.

Given that the dog appeared severely underweight, PHS/SPCA’s Lead Humane Investigator requested a necropsy to determine the cause of death and staff made contact with the owner linked to the dog through the microchip. PHS/SPCA learned the owner moved to China and had given her dog to a friend six months earlier, prior to her move.

PHS/SPCA’s Veterinary Chief of staff conducted the necropsy on January 9, 2014. She determined the dog had no underlying disease and died of starvation. The results showed no typical signs of lost/stray dogs (the hair on the pedal surface of all four feet was matted and these matts covered the entire ventral surface of the feet and the nails were intact and long). PHS/SPCA’s veterinarian determined the dog was confined and not allowed access to food for up to two weeks before the dog died; the necropsy report also noted that the dog’s stomach was completely empty. A sample of the femur was sent to a lab for bone marrow fat analysis. Normal bone marrow fat content is 59.4% or higher; the sample from “Penny” contained just 1.2%.

PHS/SPCA compiled its findings and interview notes and presented materials to the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. The San Francisco District Attorney has charged Sun with felony animal cruelty. Sun was arraigned on January 29th and pled not guilty. He was released on his own recognizance but the court has required that he report to Supervised Pretrial Release twice a week. At the request of ADA Christopher Nemetz, the court has also ordered that he not own, possess or have any animals within his immediate control.