LOWER EAST SIDE — A man accused of leaving his emaciated pit bull inside a suitcase in a dumpster on Oct. 19 kept the starving animal in his closet instead of taking him to a vet because he knew he'd be charged, according to prosecutors.
Alec Litzinger, 21, told prosecutors he stuffed his starving pit bull Diego into a suitcase and dropped it in a dumpster because the dog was in such poor health at the time he was evicted that he was afraid he would be arrested if he took him to a veterinarian for treatment, according to a criminal complaint.
Surveillance footage shows Litzinger carting the suitcase out of an apartment building at Water Street near Gouverneur Slip East on Oct. 19 at around 8:45 p.m. with the help of Bryan Lepe, 22, who has not been apprehended, prosecutors said.
Hours later, a sanitation worker found the dog inside of the same suitcase in a dumpster at 7 Gouverneur Slip East and alerted authorities, said police and prosecutors.
Litzinger was arrested on Oct. 27 at around 7:25 p.m. and was arraigned the next day, court records show. He was charged with both aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing and injuring animals. Police are still looking for Lepe.
Diego, who was identified by microchip as belonging to Litzinger, was so emaciated when delivered to an ASPCA hospital for treatment that he must undergo a specific feeding protocol to prevent re-feeding illness, according to prosecutors.
The dog's coat was stained by prolonged contact with urine and feces, his whiskers were singed at the ends due to exposure to extreme heat, and he had sustained some injuries to his paws as well as scabs on his ears most likely from fly bites, the ASPCA vet told prosecutors.
Litzinger had been evicted from the Water Street building on Oct. 19 before dumping the dog, the building's property manager told prosecutors, and had damaged the property while living there.
On Aug. 15, Litzinger ripped the surveillance camera outside his apartment off of the wall, prosecutors said.
After his eviction, there was such a strong odor of urine and feces in his apartment that the property manager had to get a disaster company to clean it out, but even after the cleaning the unit is unlivable, according to his criminal complaint.
A lawyer for the building's property manager said Litzinger was illegally subletting the space from a tenant of the building, who was also evicted.
Litzinger has been charged with criminal mischief and petit larceny for the destruction to the apartment, court records show.
Litzinger's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.