Aug. 18, 2021 By Allie Griffin
A Richmond Hill man accused of breeding pit bulls for dog fighting — and keeping them in squalid conditions — was charged with animal cruelty Tuesday.
Andrew Cato, 59, was arraigned on a 92-count criminal complaint in Queens Criminal Court and faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
Cato allegedly kept 27 dogs inside individual concrete cages inside his basement and garage at 130-15 95th Ave. The dogs were in cages that had no water bowls or bedding, and were covered in urine and feces, according to the charges.
“This defendant, who allegedly told the police he was a breeder, kept 27 pit bulls in filthy and dungeon-like enclosures with little food, clean water, light, or ventilation,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.
Cato was caught when a NYPD officer responded to neighbors’ complaints of dogs barking and foul odors on July 28.
The officer found 17 dogs in Cato’s garage and 10 more in his basement. Both areas reeked of feces and urine, and were infested with flies, according to the complaint.
The animals were allegedly locked in individual cages that were soiled with urine and feces. Water was available in only a handful of the cages and it was contaminated by the waste.
The officer, according to the complaint, also recovered tools for breeding and dog fighting from the scene.
“Pets and animals are meant to be protected and nurtured,” Katz said. “In Queens, I will hold accountable those who choose to abuse them instead.”
The ASPCA rescued the 27 dogs — all of which are believed to be pit bulls or pit bull mixes — from Cato’s property.
Some of the dogs had injuries and scars consistent with dog fighting, according to veterinarians with the ASPCA. They all had dirty, contaminated coats from living in a filthy environment with prolonged contact to feces and urine.
The nonprofit is treating the dogs for various medical ailments. It is also providing behavioral training.
Cato is due back in court on Sept. 8.