FREEHOLD – A Long Branch man has surrendered to authorities this morning in connection with the attempted drowning of ‘River,’ a dog found last week in a cage on a bulkhead in Highlands, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Aaron D. Davis, 36, of Long Branch, was charged last Friday with third degree Animal Cruelty – Attempting to Cause Death or Serious Bodily Injury to an Animal and disorderly persons offenses of Abandonment of a Domestic Animal, Failure to Provide Necessary Care and Failure to Provide Proper Shelter.

On July 31, 2018, at approximately 6:15 AM, a Highlands resident, who was walking her dog in the area of Veterans Memorial Park on Bay Avenue, observed something on the water side of the rock bulkhead. As the passerby investigated, she spotted a black wire cage with a small dog cowering inside the cage. The cage was on a small portion of sand between the bulkhead and the water. The tide was coming in and the water had reached the cage. The passerby climbed over the wall and rescued the animal. The dog, a pitbull-mixed breed named “River” by the rescuer, was brought to the Highlands Police Department who then contacted Highlands Animal Control.  When Animal Control officers responded to the site of the canine’s rescue, they found the cage almost submerged by the rising tide.

A subsequent joint investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office SPCA Division and the Highlands and Long Branch police departments, determined that Davis had abandoned the caged dog near the water’s edge in an attempt to drown the animal.

If convicted of the third degree crime of Animal Cruelty, Davis faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in a New Jersey state prison. On each disorderly persons offense, he faces a separate 6-month period of incarceration.

Davis turned himself in to authorities early Tuesday morning and is currently lodged at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution. His first appearance, where Davis will formally be presented with the charges against him, is scheduled for Wednesday August 8, 2018 in Monmouth County Superior Court.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.


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