Man pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges

LEWISTOWN — Gerald J. Derosier, 31, of Lewistown, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty, said Mifflin County District Attorney Christopher Torquato.

Derosier was charged in March after cutting a dog’s throat, causing the animal’s death. Court documents state Derosier was living in Lewistown with a roommate, two friends and the friends’ dog in February. The dog reportedly had multiple seizures and was generally ill. One of the pet owners told police that while she and the other owner were delivering newspapers, Derosier contacted her to tell her the dog’s condition had worsened and a veterinarian instructed him to put the dog down, which he did by cutting the dog’s throat in the bathtub.

When police interviewed Derosier, he reportedly stated the dog “wasn’t acting right” all day and he unsuccessfully tried to contact One Dog at a Time to get the dog care. He also reported he discovered the dog was bleeding from the nose and mouth and its tongue was hanging out; Derosier said he thought the dog was dead.

Derosier told police he spoke to a veterinarian who advised him it would cost $200 to put the dog to sleep. He also said one of the dog’s owners and their roommate wanted to put the dog in a garbage bag to dispose of it, but he insisted they make sure the dog was deceased first. Derosier told police he and the roommate retrieved bricks, took the dog to the bathroom and put it in the tub. The owner then waited at the bottom of the stairs and Derosier stood outside of the bathroom while the roommate struck the dog in the head with a brick, court documents state.

Derosier told police the roommate later said the dog might still be alive, after the owners had left to deliver newspapers. Derosier then retrieved a knife and stabbed the dog once in the throat before going to bed. Derosier told police he only wanted to ensure that the dog didn’t suffer and he thought the dog was dead before doing anything.

One of the owners reported when she returned home, she found the dog in the tub with knife wounds and the dog was reportedly still alive. The owner then stayed with the dog until it died later that morning. The owner reported neither she or the other owner instructed Derosier to dispose of the dog and that they had intended to take the dog to a veterinarian for examination.

The Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory examined the dog’s remains and reported the cause of death was sharp force trauma to the neck.