By Jeanne Sager
BLOOMINGBURG April 9, 2004 Trooper Dan Mitchell has seen animal cruelty cases before.
But hes never seen a case like Rivers.
The dog was shoved in a crate too small for his 2-year-old frame.
Aching from the open sores that covered his body, the tiny pup was rescued Friday by the SPCA on orders from the New York State Police.
His paws were mangled and bent, the front foot broken and never set.
Ravaged by fleas and suffering from mange, River was a shadow of a dog.
The only evidence of his color was on his face, the only area on the dog where fur was still growing the rest of his hair was gone, from a mixture of malnutrition and rubbing on the sides of the cage.
Mitchell said the call came in last week from neighbors who saw the pup stuck in his crate at River Edge Trailer Park in Bloomingburg.
Animal cruelty officers were called in, and River was rescued Friday afternoon.
His owners, Fred Luca Jr., 33, and his brother, Matthew Luca, 25, were arrested.
Each was charged with four misdemeanors, one count each of cruelty to an animal, having an unlicensed dog, not having a rabies vaccination and having an unidentified dog.
The brothers will be facing Judge Marcelle Matthews in Mamakating Town Court on April 22 at 9 a.m.
They showed no remorse, Mitchell said.
They dont think they did anything wrong, he said.
Its been a bad week for Mitchell. Sunday afternoon he arrested another Sullivan County resident for killing a cat. He made sure the Lucas signed a surrender order for River theyll never get him back.
Hopefully theyll never get another pet, he said.
Right now River is under the loving care of the folks at Glen Wild Animal Rescue after a visit to Dr. Richard Steins veterinary office this week.
Although hes been to hell and back, the pup still cuddles up to the workers at the shelter, hobbling on paws that are bright red and horribly swollen.
The shelter will be accepting donations to take care of him under the Miracle Fund, named for another abused dog rescued several years ago.
Checks made out to Glen Wild Animal Rescue, attention the Miracle Fund, can be sent to the shelter at P.O. Box 714, Glen Wild, NY 12738 or dropped at the First National Bank of Jeffersonvilles Wurtsboro branch.