Richard Piquard was facing a charge of animal cruelty after police say he buried a dog alive. The 24-year-old man from Whitinsville, Massachusetts was arrested Sunday, September 9 by Northbridge police. He posted $1,000 bond and was released. He was due to be arrainged in Uxbridge District Court on September 11, 2018.
The woman who found the dog, Kaylee Belanger, shared details about what led up to the incident and why the dog was living with Piquard.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Dog Reportedly Began Living With Richard Piquard Within the Past Year
The dog was an 18-year-old Shih Tzu named Chico. According to Kaylee Belanger, who found the dog buried alive, Chico had been passed around to different homes over the past four years.
In a Facebook post, she shared that Chico originally belonged to a man named Alex Dion, who passed away in 2014. Belanger wrote that Chico “was a loved family dog who was there for Alex through his life and struggles and time of passing.”
Family and friends took over care of Chico. But within the past year, Chico went to Richard Piquard. Belanger described Piquard as the father of Alex’s niece and nephew.
CBS Boston further identifies Chico as belonging to Piquard’s ex-girlfriend, but that Piquard had been caring for him.
2. Piquard Allegedly Warned His Ex-Girlfriend Ahead of Time That He Planned to Put the Dog to Sleep
Richard Piquard allegedly became tired of caring for Chico. As an elderly dog, he required a significant amount of attention. Kaylee Belanger told police that Piquard wanted to give Chico back to his ex-girlfriend, who is a friend of Belanger’s. Piquard reportedly threatened to have Chico euthanized unless his ex took him off her hands.
Belanger explained on Facebook that the ex-girlfriend agreed to take Chico back. But she needed Piquard to wait a few weeks before she could.
Around this time, Piquard adopted a kitten. Belanger said Piquard told her that he did not want to take care of both animals.
3. Belanger Says Piquard Told Her Chico Had Died and That He Buried the Dog in the Woods Behind the House
Kaylee Belanger told police that Richard Piquard texted her on the morning of Sunday, September 9, and claimed that Chico had passed away in his sleep. He told her he buried the dog in the woods behind his home, and marked the spot with a stone. She demanded to know exactly where the dog’s body was buried, so that she could retrieve it to be cremated.
Belanger said Piquard told her the wrong spot. After searching for about 45 minutes, Belanger and her fiancé found the real grave on the opposite side of the woods from where Piquard had described it being. They found an area that appeared to have fresh dirt and began digging. They hit a rock, and noticed fur.
When Belanger removed the rock, Chico’s body was discovered underneath it. Her fiancé realized the dog was remarkably still breathing. She described that the dog yelped and “felt flat like a pancake from the rock weighing him down in the hole.”
4. Chico Was Rushed to a Veterinary Hospital but Had to Be Euthanized
Belanger said they rushed Chico to the Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Grafton, Massachusetts. The vets spent hours caring for Chico and monitoring him. The dog could not move his head or stand up.
Belanger explained that according to the veterinarians, Chico was malnourished and dehydrated. He suffered from hypothermia from being outside for several hours. And he was anemic due to the number of fleas attacking his body. There was evidence that Chico had been neglected before his untimely burial. The decision was ultimately made to put Chico to sleep.
5. Richard Piquard Faces up to Seven Years in Prison if Convicted of Animal Cruelty
Northbridge Police Chief Walter Warchol told CBS Boston, “In my 41 years I’ve never seen anything like this.” He said Chico had likely been in the ground for about five hours before he was discovered.
Under Massachusetts law, animal cruelty is classified as a felony. If convicted, Piquard faces a maximum seven years behind bars and a fine up to $5,000.
“Section 77. Whoever overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly beats, mutilates or kills an animal, or causes or procures an animal to be overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, cruelly beaten, mutilated or killed… shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 7 years in state prison or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by both fine and imprisonment; provided, however, that a second or subsequent offense shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years or by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by both such fine and imprisonment.”