Animal Cruelty Charge for NJ Man Whose Dog Died in Submerged Truck

andrew mayer toms river left dog in truck

In addition to the criminal mischief, careless driving and pollution charges he’s already facing, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJ SPCA) has charged Andrew Mayer of Toms River, N.J., with one count of third-degree failure to provide proper care by recklessly endangering an animal’s life, according to the NJ SPCA Facebook page.

Just before midnight on Feb. 28, Mayer drove his truck out to the middle of the frozen Toms River and did donuts (drove around in tight circles). He brought along Rolo, his 2-year-old Boxer/Lab mix.

When his truck crashed through the ice, Mayer managed to get out, but could not get Rolo out of the cab. After local police, the New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard spent 10 hours — and hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money — searching for the truck, they finally found it the next morning, with Rolo’s body inside.

Mayer’s supporters insist he did his best to get Rolo out of the truck.

“He did almost kill himself trying to save his dog,” his cousin’s fiancée, Helecia Morris, told “He’s completely devastated. His truck, his dog — everything is in this bay.”

dog left in truck in Toms River

The Asbury Park Press reports that Mayer appeared in a Toms River municipal courtroom today as Judge Damian G. Murray read the four charges, which will now be sent to the Ocean County prosecutor’s office. Those officials will decide if Mayer will be indicted on the charges.

The animal cruelty charge (4:2217(c)(2)(3)) could result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or up to six months of jail time.

The judge offered Mayer a public defender, but just as he had made the brilliant decision to do donuts on a frozen river, Mayer decided he will represent himself in court.

“Just so you understand, you have third-degree charges against you, which could carry substantial penalties in these matters, as well as a criminal history that could follow you for a considerable period of time,” Murray warned him, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Besides a criminal history, Mayer’s driving history includes 14 traffic violations and 12 suspensions of his driver’s license.

Nope, he would “absolutely” represent himself, Mayer insisted.

‘Why Didn’t the Dog Do the Doggie Paddle?’ — Sgt. Thomas Yannacone

Meanwhile, about seven miles east of Toms River, Sgt. Thomas Yannacone of the Seaside Heights Police Dept. is still under investigation after posting offensive comments about the case on Facebook last week.

“Why didn’t the dog do the Doggie Paddle?” the police officer wrote in one comment. “And was he listening to Van Halen’s ‘Diver Down’ just before going thru the ice? These are the questions I want answered !!!”

And, later:

“Truck plunging thru the ice with a dog inside brings a whole new meaning to FROZEN WEINER or DIRTY WATER DOG. What, to [sic] soon, calm down u animal loving freaks…just be glad it wasn’t a cat because that would have been one WET PU….!!!!!!”

The investigation concerns Yannacone’s possible violation of the police department’s social media policy — not the tasteless comments he made.

Photos via Facebook

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!