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Columbus Firefighter Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

A Columbus firefighter faces 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges. Now he faces a disciplinary hearing before the fire chief.

Columbus Firefighter David Santuomo admitted he shot his two dogs, Sloopy and Skeeter, in December. He killed them because he did not want to pay to board them while he was on a cruise.

Santuomo also pleaded guilty to possessing a criminal tool: a homemade silencer. Franklin County Municipal Judge Harland Hale sentenced the 43-year-old firefighter to 90 days in jail. Santuomo will have to pay more than $4,600 in fines and restitution.

Prosecutors said Santuomo bragged to fellow firefighters about killing his dogs in his basement and dumping their bodies in a dumpster behind a firehouse. Colleagues alerted the Capital Area Humane Society where Santuomo adopted the animals.

Humane society spokesperson Sherry Miller said after recovering the dogs' bodies and collecting evidence from Santuomo's home the organization filed animal cruelty charges.

"We were glad to see that Santuomo, David Santuomo, will be serving jail time for this particularly disturbing crime," she said.

Miller said Santuomo went through the standard process when he adopted Sloopy and Skeeter about two years ago. Miller said Capital Area workers did not see any red flags.

"Our adoption counselors who do that every day did not see pause for concern," Miller said. Santuomo, who has been at the division of fire for twelve years, now faces a disciplinary hearing before Fire Chief Ned Pettis.

Battalion Chief David Whiting said the division's own investigation and the court's findings will have a bearing on the disciplinary action - which could be anything from a verbal reprimand to termination.

"Things that we value are honesty and integrity and things like that. And those things will all come into play. They'll certainly look at those," Whiting said.

In an email to Chief Pettis in December Santuomo admitted he killed the dogs, but Sanutomo told Pettis he did it in an effort to put them out of their misery; he said he feared they had ingested a toxic chemical.

Whiting would not speculate as to when the disciplinary hearing will be. And he said Fire Chief Pettis is out of town and may not be aware of Santuomo's guilty plea.