Man Accused of Starving His Dog, Then Trying To Pass It Off As A Stray

A man was accused of starving his 3-year-old cocker spaniel nearly to death and then taking the dog to an animal shelter and saying it wasn't his.

William Winters, 31, of Mastic, was arrested Sunday and charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, punishable by up to four years in prison.

He had brought the emaciated dog, Bailey, to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter in March and claimed he was a stray, but shelter workers were suspicious because of his condition, according to Suffolk County police.

"They felt that, wherever it was found, it must have been close to where it lived," Detective Sgt. John Best said.

Bailey "couldn't walk, couldn't lift its head, couldn't do anything," shelter director Charlie McGinley said Monday.

Following an investigation, McGinley said, Winters admitted he owned the dog. Another dog on the property was in good health, he said.

Bailey was rushed to an animal hospital and is now back at the shelter continuing his recovery.

"He weighed 19 pounds, all ribs," when he first arrived, McGinley said. "He gained five pounds in the first few days. They had to hold up his head so he could eat."

Bailey is now a robust 36 pounds, and should be available for adoption soon.

It could not be determined if Winters had a lawyer; there was no listing for a William Winters in Mastic.