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West Haven police identify 2 suspects in case of dog burned to death

WEST HAVEN --  It has been one week since a dog was set on fire and killed at the Sandy Point Beach parking lot in West Haven.

Police identified the two suspects in connection to the heinous crime on Friday.

The suspects are not being publicly identified at this time, but they said at least one of them cooperated with detectives.

"It’s little surreal because it happened outside my home and at first, I thought maybe it was someone who did it intentionally because I am an animal rescuer," said Melly Garthwait of West Haven.

Garthwait lived at the home right across from Sandy Point Beach where police said a one-year old mini Schnauzer with cropped ears and a tail was set on fire and burned to death.

Being a dog rescuer herself, Garthwait said the news bothered her immensely.

"It's been very emotional because we want to see the people get brought to justice," added Garthwait.

Detectives have been working around the clock to review surveillance video, speaking to neighbors and gathering evidence.

Garthwait hoped this will bring change for the sake of everyone's safety.

"I would really really love to see cameras placed - surveillance cameras placed in the sanctuary and I would also love to see the gates closed every night," added Garthwait.

A news conference was held to address the shocking crime where several advocacy organizations came out to speak.

"Anyone that can do this to an animal is capable of doing this to any human being whether it’s a child, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister," said Robin Zillacannamela of Desmond’s Army.

"We don’t take this seriously - it’s a horrific crime being burned alive. We all know what it’s like to burn ourselves on a stove or something but can you actually imagine being lit on fire?"  said Heather Scutti of the Star Relief and Pet Assistance.

Former West Haven Mayor Ed O'Brien who is running for re-election wanted to see lawmakers push for harsher penalties when it comes to animal cruelty cases and said the current punishment is not enough.

"What I’m calling for is a doubling of the crimes for animal cruelty. Presently, it’s one year in jail and a thousand dollar fine. I think we should immediately double that to 2-thousand dollars, two years and a mandatory ban on owning animals for 15 years," said O'Brien.

Police said they expect arrest warrants to be issued soon.

Friday, West Haven Police released the following statement:

"After a lengthy investigation lead by our Detective Division the West Haven Police are pleased to report that two suspects were identified in the Animal Cruelty/Arson case which occurred July 5th at the Sandy Point beach parking lot. Detectives worked tirelessly reviewing surveillance video, speaking to residents and gathering evidence. One of the suspects was interviewed today and is cooperating with the investigation. As this investigation concludes arrest warrants are anticipated to be prepared and submitted to Milford Superior Court for review. West Haven Police would like to thank the community for their support, compassion and cooperation."

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