VAN NUYS, Calif. (KTLA) — A 29-year-old transient pleaded not guilty Tuesday to animal cruelty and other charges after allegedly leaving a family’s dog to die in a stolen van.
Danny Fis was charged with one count each of unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle and cruelty to an animal.
Fis was accused of stealing a Honda Odyssey with the dog inside from a Studio City mall parking lot on Aug. 17.
The van’s owner told police he left the air conditioner running for the dog while he entered a clothing store to get his family.
When he returned, the van and the dog were gone.
Police found the van two days later with the windows rolled up.
The family dog, a yellow Labrador named Maru, was found dead inside the abandoned vehicle.
Animal control investigators determined Maru died of heat exhaustion.
Fis was being held on $45,000 bail.
He was scheduled to be back in court Sept. 10.