A 24-year-old man allegedly buried his ex-girlfriend’s dog alive in Northbridge because it wasn’t getting along with his new kitten, court records show.
The alleged callousness of Richard Piquard, of Whitinsville, was detailed in a police report made public following his arraignment Tuesday in Uxbridge District Court on a charge of animal cruelty. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Judge Gerald Lemire set bail at $1,000 and ordered Piquard to undergo a mental health evaluation, said Paul Jarvey, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office.
Lemire also barred Piquard from having “any animals for the pendency of the case with random inspections by the MSPCA,” Jarvey wrote in an e-mail.
Piquard’s court-appointed lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment, and a man who answered the phone at a number listed for Piquard hung up on a reporter.
According to the Northbridge police report, a woman named Kaylee Belanger told police early Sunday afternoon that she had discovered a Shih Tzu dog buried alive. The dog was taken to Tufts Veterinary Hospital in Grafton, where it had to be euthanized.
Belanger and Felicia Dion, the owner of the dog, came to the police department later that afternoon along with another woman, Alex Borden, and gave formal statements, the report said.
The women said Dion hadn’t been able to keep the dog, known as Chico, due to lease restrictions, so Piquard cared for it over the last 18 months. Piquard is Dion’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her two children.
Belanger told police that Piquard informed her Saturday night that he “got a kitten named Oreo,” the report said. “We talked about the new kitten. He messaged me and said he needs to get rid of Chico. Chico doesn’t like the kitten too much ... At 10:09 a.m. [Sunday] he messaged me again and sent a photo of the cat. I replied, ‘she’s a cutie.’ He then said ‘Chico passed last night.’”
Belanger became suspicious, she said, after Piquard gave her conflicting instructions on where to find Chico’s body. Belanger and Borden set out to find the dog. Borden found it in a wooded area, and Belanger, who was searching nearby, joined her and “started digging,” Belanger said.
“I saw Chico’s head under a rock,” Belanger told police. “I dug up Chico, he was breathing slowly.”
In a brief telephone interview with Globe, Belanger said it was “appalling” to see Piquard walk out of court after his arraignment Tuesday and said she hopes he receives “the maximum consequences possible.”
Belanger said she’s not aware of Piquard ever attacking people. The kitten has been removed from his residence, she said.
“He’s always had a really bad temper,” Belanger said, adding that she’s seeking mental health counseling to help her deal with the weekend trauma. “He’s always been very angry when things happened with animals in the past, as far as disciplining them goes.”
Supporters of the slain dog have created a Justice For Chico page on Facebook, according to Belanger.
Dion told police that Belanger and Borden called her after they found Chico.
“Both of them were screaming, crying, and very emotional,” Dion said, according to the report. “They were both yelling, ‘Don’t let Rick take the kids anymore!’”
In addition, Dion said, her friends indicated that Piquard had claimed Chico died of natural causes. But they doubted his story, since he had told Dion’s mother and Belanger the day before that he had to get rid of Chico to accommodate the kitten, records show.
Dion also told police that Piquard issued a dire threat on Aug. 4 during a birthday party for one of their children, telling Dion, “If you don’t get Chico out of my house, I will take him in my back yard and shoot him,” the report said.
Piquard works as a roofer and stands 6-foot-1, weighing 180 pounds, according to his booking sheet. His next court date is slated for Oct. 26.
Staff at the Grafton animal hospital noted that Chico had a “severe flea infection” and “severe neck pain and could not stand up,” the report said. “Blood work from Chico indicated that he was in severe shock, dehydrated, and ... suffering from anemia.”
Piquard waived his Miranda rights after his arrest and admitted to police that he buried Chico on Sunday around 6 a.m., according to the report.
“Mr Piquard’s only exculpatory statement was that he believed Chico was dead,” the filing said. “When confronted with information from veterinary staff about the matter (Chico was visibly alive) Mr. Piquard did not have an explanation. Mr. Piquard agreed ... that even if he believed Chico was deceased, his condition prior to death [amounted] to neglect” due to the fleas.