A 40-year-old Nevada woman is accused of stealing a pit bull puppy from her neighbor, driving it into the desert and executing it in front of her two children, police said Tuesday.
Maria Furtado shot the puppy on Sunday, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release posted to Facebook.
The sheriff’s office said Furtado shot the dog multiple times while her children, ages 3 and 15, watched. The puppy’s owners said on Facebook that the dog, named Duke, may have been alive when Furtado and her children left it.
She was charged with animal cruelty, two counts of neglect/abuse of a child and petit larceny. She was arrested and booked into the Nye County Jail on Sunday, the sheriff’s office said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Puppy Had Killed Her 2 Ducklings Several Days Earlier
The sheriff’s office said Maria Christina Furtado believed the puppy had killed her family’s two ducklings several days before she allegedly stole and shot the dog.
Police did not say exactly when Furtado believes the dog killed the ducklings. Furtado posted photos of her family’s ducks on her Instagram page last year, and has photos of several dogs on her Facebook page.
2. She Also Allegedly Forced Her 15-Year-Old Son to Shoot the Dog
Furtado drove to her neighbor’s house with her two kids in the car, went onto the property and took the dog from where it was chained, the sheriff’s office said.
After taking the puppy, she put it into her car and then drove it into the desert, where police said she shot the dog.
“Deputies discovered that when Furtado reached the desert area she took the puppy out of the vehicle with a pistol in her hand. She then shot the puppy more than once,” the sheriff’s office said in the press release.
According to the sheriff’s office, Furtado also forced her 15-year-old son to shoot the dog after she had shot it.
The son is not facing any charges in the dog’s shooting.
3. She Is Facing 3 Felony Charges That Carry Stiff Penalties
Furtado was charged with three felonies for animal cruelty and neglect/abuse of a child. The larceny charge is a misdemeanor.
“Cooney’s Law” was passed by the Nevada legislature in 2011, making it a felony to kill animals that are kept as pets. The law was named after a beagle who was killed by its owner in Reno, Nevada.
According to Nevada state law, Furtado faces a minimum of two years in prison and not more than 20 years in prison if she is found guilty of the child endangerment charges.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” said one of Duke’s owners, Rick Wills, to KTNV-TV. “This is a dog that was a family pet.”
Duke’s other owner, Skye Turpin, told the news station, “I don’t even know how someone could do that. That’s just sick. And then having her kids be there, that’s wrong.”
4. She Posted on Her Facebook Page About a Neighbor’s Missing Dog Days Before the Alleged Shooting
Furtado posted on her Facebook page about a neighbor’s missing dog just five days before police said she shot a neighbor’s dog. It is not clear if the dog mentioned in the Facebook page is the same dog she allegedly shot.
Here is what she wrote:
Female pitbull 6 month old puppy named of diamond missing on and around the Mandela and homestead area . very friendly goes by the name of diamond family devastated please … call …to reunite her with her family..I will post,/update the numbers to provide a direct line to the owners soon. In the meantime just give me a call or text or message..pics to come but she’s beige with white on her muzzle and white socks.. feet
According to the dog owner’s sister, Diamond was another dog the family owned. Both dogs had been missing, and the family says they later learned the dogs had been taken by Furtado. The dogs were then returned, but the next day Furtado allegedly returned and took Duke. Diamond was with a family member at the time.
5. The Shooting Led to Angry Comments on the Sheriff’s Facebook Page
The sheriff’s department received several messages on Facebook praising them for making the arrest and expressing anger toward Furtado.
“What scum. Thank you NCSO. I hate animal and child abusers,” Ashly Lytle-Madrid posted. “They have no way to defend themselves. Hope she gets the MAXIMUM for each crime.”
Jeanette Wardell posted, “She sure doesn’t need kids either !!! I have always said if you watch how a person treats an animal you will get a good idea how they will treat children and other people.”
Another post said several people will be showing up at her court appearance Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the Pahrump Justice Court to support “Justice For Duke.”