Owner, demonstrators upset suspect won't face felony charge for - KPTV - FOX 12

Owner, demonstrators upset suspect won't face felony charge for dog's death in stolen car

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A man accused of stealing a car and leaving a dog inside the car to die was arraigned in court on Monday. The charges he now faces have changed and a lot of people are upset about it.

Many people are frustrated with the criminal justice system following the tragic death of Kona, a two-year-old Black Lab.

On Monday, they lined up outside the courthouse hours before it opened, demanding justice for Kona, who was found dead inside a stolen car earlier this month.

"There were plenty of times when the car thief could have let him out and he didn't, and people like that deserve jail time," said Tracy Salsbery.

Police said surveillance video recorded on April 7 shows 34-year-old Francisco Gonzalez steal the car with Kona inside. Police found the car days later with Kona's body inside.

Initial reports indicated the dog died from strangulation. In Oregon, that would amount to aggravated animal abuse, a felony.

However, new forensic evidence shows Kona did not suffer any physical trauma before his death, which prosecutors said took felony charges off the table.

At the courthouse, Gonzalez appeared by video to hear the charges for car theft and animal abuse.

While Kona's supporters expressed their frustration, they said leaving the dog inside a hot car to die should be considered an aggravated crime.

"The minute this individual stole this vehicle, he took in the responsibility of Kona's life and he chose to not do ethical behavior and he let the animal die," said Suzanne Narog.

Meanwhile, Kona's owner vows to get the law changed.

"Would I like him to be charged with a felony? Yes, I would. Is the District Attorney able to do it and actually hold the charge? Not the way the law is written now. [Should the law be changed?] Yes, it should," said Bill Robbins, Kona's owner.

Gonzalez does face felony charges for the car theft, but the charges related to Kona's death are misdemeanors.

The District Attorney's office said they consulted with state experts on animal abuse and said the current charges are appropriate and provable.

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