KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A KCMO firefighter pleaded guilty Tuesday after leaving his starving dog to die in an apartment closet.
Blayne Theunissen pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of animal abandonment of his chocolate lab, which was pictured on his Facebook page looking healthy and loved.
Animal control investigators say Theunissen's case is one of their worst cases.
“I have been doing this for almost 15 years, and this really infuriates me,” said James Donovan, the special investigator with KCMO Animal Control who investigated the case.
Donovan’s report shows that Theunissen was evicted from his apartment at The Crossing at Barry Road in June 2017. Three months later when apartment staff were cleaning his apartment to re-rent it, they found Theunissen’s dog locked in a wire crate in a closed closet, dead and severely decomposed.
For that, Theunissen received 15 days in jail, which the judge suspended, and he will be on probation for 2 years. He was also ordered to continue mental health treatment, and he is not allowed to possess any animals.
It's a slap on the wrist, Donovan said, but prosecutors are limited to what they can do in animal cruelty cases, handcuffed by state law.
“I keep my drive going every day because I have to speak for these animals,” Donovan said. “And if I am not doing it, who is going to step up behind me and speak for the voices of these animals.”
If you want your voice heard about the lax animal cruelty laws, Donovan said to contact your legislator. They have the ultimate power in increasing penalties for people who abuse animals.
The Kansas City Fire Department has not responded to FOX4's request for comment.
If you are struggling and need assistance taking care of your animals, there are programs to help. Call 311 to be guided to the correct agency that can help.