By Mark Scheer
A 12th Street man wanted in connection with a high-profile animal cruelty case has turned himself in to Niagara Falls police, according to officials from the SPCA of Niagara.
In a release, SPCA officials said Donald Ruben, 42, of 254 12th St., walked into the Niagara Falls Public Safety Complex at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. SPCA officials said Ruben told police he had been following media coverage of three emaciated dogs found in a 12th Street apartment where he once lived and knew police would be seeking his whereabouts once an arrest warrant was signed.
SPCA Executive Director Amy Lewis said she learned about Ruben's decision during a telephone call Wednesday morning from Falls Police Officer Dave Bauer, who also serves on the board of directors for the animal shelter. Police were in the process of securing a warrant for Ruben's arrest when he turned himself in, Lewis said.
"I was shocked by the phone call, but I'm glad (Ruben) is accepting his part in this case and I'm hoping the judge doesn't allow for any kind of leniency," Lewis said.
On June 30, the SPCA and falls police removed three dogs from a 12th Street apartment previously occupied by Ruben after receiving reports of animal neglect on the premises. The dogs were found emaciated and living in deplorable conditions. The youngest - a 7-week old puppy named Jonah - was in criticial condition when found. Jonah was rushed to the shelter for treatment and later to a veterinary clinic where he died July 3. Ruben is now facing three counts of animal cruelty for the abandonment and neglect of the three dogs, according to the SPCA.
"I am pleased with the arrest of Donald Ruben," said SPCA Board President Michelle Madigan in the release from the shelter. "Jonah was a beautiful, living, breathing soul and deserved to be treated with love and care, not to be abused and left to suffer and die. Animal cruelty will never stop until the law includes justice for animals as well as people."
Lewis said the two other dogs - a female SPCA officials have named Nellie and a male they are calling Dorian - were very thin when they were found but are progressing with treatment. She said the animal shelter is still awaiting permission from the police to put the dogs up for adoption, but said she remains hopeful that they will eventually be placed with new owners.
"They are both doing extremely well," she said.