Police uncover animal cruelty while investigating hit-and-run

(New Bedford Police Department photo)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) – New Bedford police say they were investigating a hit-and-run crash when they came across something gruesome at a home on Bream Street early Saturday morning.

Police arrested 43-year-old Danny Santos after finding scores of animals, both dead and alive, inside his home.

“He did have a lot of pets in there, and that house was really filthy,” said Teddy Ramos, who lives next door.

The investigation began around 3:00 a.m., 7 blocks away on Capitol Street, where police say they received reports of a vehicle hitting parked cars, then taking off.

Ernest Medeiros and Sue Gomes live next door to one another on Capitol Street– they told Eyewitness News both their cars were hit.

Gomes said her car, which was parked on the street, was brand new. She found it “twisted” on the sidewalk.

The investigation into the crash led investigators to Santos’ home at 15 Bream Street. The car was in the driveway, but Santos wasn’t there. While looking through the window, an officer saw several dogs which appeared to be malnourished.

After calling animal control and entering the home, police removed seven malnourished dogs, a live cat, and two dead cats. In the backyard shed, they found skeletal remains of seven chickens and three rabbits.

“They had animals all in cages, they were all outside, five cages full of animals,” said Ramos. Police say the house was strewn with feces.

The resident of the home, Danny Santos, returned home on foot and was charged with nine counts of animal cruelty.

The victims of the hit-and-run were horrified by the end result.

“That’s very upsetting” said Ernest Medeiros, whose car was hit. “It’s worse than the bang on the car.”

“It brings tears to my eyes to think somebody like that would hurt an animal,” added Gomes. “A car you can replace, an animal you can’t.”

A letter on the door of the home from the Department of Health Saturday ordered the homeowner – who is not Santos – to clean up the home, or it will be condemned.

Police are still investigating the hit-and-run. Santos has not been charged, though police called him a suspect.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday morning for the animal cruelty charges.

Neil Remiesiewicz contributed to this report. 

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