A New Jersey man who raised more than $14,000 on GoFundMe for his German Shepherd puppy’s vet bills fatally beat the dog and lied about the pet's condition for money, police said.
Reid M. Herjo, of Medford, has been charged with third-degree animal cruelty and third-degree theft. The investigation into Herjo began in late January after police pulled him over for speeding, according to the Medford Township Police. In the car was Herjo’s injured 14-week-old puppy Atlas. Herjo told police he was speeding because he was rushing Atlas to the vet after the puppy got struck by an ATV while they were out on a walk. A few days later police received information suggesting that the ATV story was false, and officers started working with state police to find the truth.
Altas suffered fractures and hemorrhaging. Herjo told his vet that the puppy was hurt on two other occasions. He claimed Atlas fell down a flight of stairs in December and that he fell down a hill in January, according to police.
By February, Atlas died. Police believe that the puppy suffered additional trauma by then.
Police said Herjo, 24, tried to cash in on the dog’s injuries, which he allegedly inflicted on Atlas himself. He created a GoFundMe page asking strangers to donate for the dog's "emergency surgery." Herjo closed the campaign the day after the puppy, who was five months old by this time, died, according to NJ.com. The page has since been deleted.
“Herjo falsified the narrative of the account by indicating that Atlas sustained the injuries when he and Atlas were in a hit and run motor vehicle crash,” police stated. “The account raised $14,065 via 693 separate donations over a 28 day period.”
Herjo was arrested on March 28. Police told Oxygen he was served a summons complaint. He has been banned from GoFundMe and people who donated money for Atlas will be refunded, according to the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
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