A man accused of leaving three dogs to die in a Providence apartment faced a judge Thursday.
Joseph Miller, the dogs' owner, was arraigned on felony charges in Providence District Court.
He stood before a judge in a clean courtroom, breathing fresh air -- nothing like the conditions police say he left his three dogs in.
Officers said they found his Providence apartment last December filled with trash, feces and the bodies of three dogs: Charon, China and Bison. They starved to death.
"I've never had a case involving multiple dead animals," said Joe Warzycha, an animal cruelty investigator for the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
When NBC 10 first reported on the animal cruelty case, many of our viewers wondered why no one heard the dogs. But neighbors did.
"They made complaints to the landlord," Warzycha said. "But unfortunately, it never went any further than that. Never went to the authorities until it was too late."
The landlord won't face any charges, but Miller faces multiple felony and misdemeanor charges. He's accused of knowingly abandoning his dogs and failing to provide adequate sustenance. Combined, the charges carry the possibility of multiple years in prison.
"I feel it's acceptable," Warzycha said "The problem is no one ever gets time."
Detectives said they believe Miller abandoned the pit bulls in November and that they were without food for a month.
"These dogs were probably eating anything to probably try to stay alive," said Dr. E.J. Finocchio, RISPCA president.
The necropsies showed they ate plastic, cloth and even wood.
Because of Miller's past rap sheet and heinousness of the crimes, the judge set his bail at $25,000. The judge also banned him from owning or living in the same home where any animals reside.
The RISPCA says that's a good sign that if found guilty Miller could face prison time.
"I'm fairly confident we have a good case," Warzycha said. "We just hope for the best because it's out of our hands now."
RISPCA investigators said Miller told police he left his apartment because he was being evicted. However, they don't know why he didn't send the dogs to a shelter or find homes for them.
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