Former Fairfield RTM member charged in animal cruelty case
FAIRFIELD — A former Representative Town Meeting member and former candidate for state representative has been arrested on animal cruelty charges.
Ray Neuberger, 34, was charged Monday on a warrant with four counts of first-degree malicious wounding of an animal for multiple injuries police allege he gave his fiancee’s two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Thor and Charlie.
Neuberger, who was released after posting a $30,000 bond, said he could not comment on the case at this time. He is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Bridgeport April 6.
The eight-page arrest warrant details burns sustained by Thor and Charlie’s multiple rib fractures, and states, “The dogs have suffered injuries beyond any reasonable scope that a healthy dog would sustain, let along two dogs.”
The injuries did not occur until Neuberger’s fiancee moved into his Stone Ridge condominium.
He told police Thor’s burns happened when he accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee on the dog, while bending down to clean up after Thor. According to the warrant, on June 22, 2017, Neuberger texted his girlfriend, “The worst thing just happened.” He said he spilled the coffee on Thor when he was trying to clean some feces off of the dog, and some of the coffee also got on Charlie. He said he put Thor in the tub, but that large clumps of fur began falling out. Thor was brought to the Norwalk VCA Hospital for treatment.
The next day, his owner took Charlie to the veterinarian’s office, because she felt his health was declining and there might be something wrong with his ribs.
During their investigation, police also talked to the fiancee’s former boyfriend. He said she stopped by his apartment with Charlie on June 23, on her way to the veterinarian. He said she was distraught and the dog was “almost lifeless” in the car. He asked her if Neuberger did that to the dog, and he said she replied, “I don’t know; I don’t know.”
X-rays showed multiple rib fractures and bruising to Charlie’s lungs, as well as an elevated liver enzyme, often an indication of blunt force trauma.
According to the warrant, the animal doctor said Neuberger’s fiancee “flipped out,” and started texting Neuberger, saying that he was going to pay for everything. When told that the veterinarian would be calling Animal Control, she allegedly asked them to hold so she could figure out what to do and said, “I don’t know who I’ve been living with.”
Thor’s burns covered 8 to 10 percent of his body, and there were exposed nerves. The doctor said it was unlikely that hot coffee could have caused burns so severe. Thor also had elevated liver enzymes.
Both Neuberger and his fiancee told police they had no idea how the dogs were injured, though they suggested Charlie’s injuries could have been sustained falling off the bed or couch. Neuberger was adamant, the warrant said, that the burns on Thor were accidental. He also said his fiancee lets the dogs off the leash when at the dog park and that may be where the rib injuries happened.
Charlie was brought back to Norwalk VCA Hospital on July 28 because he was vomiting and had a painful, distended stomach. The veterinarian said there was multiple bruising to his left chest and abdomen caused by trauma. His liver enzymes were again elevated.
In January of this year, Neuberger’s fiancee brought Charlie to a veterinarian in Shelton. That doctor found multiple “acute” rib fractures and one chronic healed fracture. When asked if she knew what caused the injuries, she told the animal doctor she did not know.
Neuberger served on the RTM, representing District 6, from 2013 to 2017. In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-133. Neuberger also worked on the campaign for state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R-132, an avid animal rights supporter.
“If the allegations are true of animal abuse, then I would hope the court system puts forth the strongest punishment possible,” Kupchick said. “I just testified on my bill to have accelerated rehabilitation removed from animal abuse cases.” She said AR does not take into consideration the severity of the abuse, and once served, the charges are wiped from an abuser’s record.