Animal associations

Dog wastes away, West Boca Raton man charged with animal cruelty

POLICE: Let the German Shepherd “Rugby” deteriorate, never sought professional care.

Michael Camelia, Courtesy Palm Beach County Jail.


BOCA RATON, FL ( (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) – West Boca Raton resident Michael Camelia faces an animal cruelty charge after his German Shepherd mix, “Rugby,” was found near death. A Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control veterinarian determined the dog was in such poor condition that “humane euthanasia” was the only option.

Rugby was found in a garage on Woodchuck Lane in December 2019 by the owner. Camelia was a tenant of the house. The owner called Animal Care and Control and refused to let Camelia into Rugby until officers responded. When they did, Camelia allegedly told them he was taking Rugby for regular vet appointments, but was told by non-medical staff that the dog suffered from “dog wasting disease”. An animal care and control veterinarian examined Rugby and made the following notes:

“Rugby was weak, dehydrated and emaciated. His body condition was so poor that most of his skeletal features were visible under his skin. Lack of food matter in his intestines, diminishing amounts of subcutaneous/organic fat and severe muscle wasting showed that Rugby was chronically malnourished. Although Rugby showed signs of heart and lung disease which may have contributed to a decreased appetite, it is possible that the lack of proper food availability also played a role in his overall condition. The presence of dirt in the oral cavity could be a sign of pica (ingestion of non-food items due to poor nutrition).

The vet also wrote:

“Even so, veterinary care should have been sought when a change in his appetite or body weight was first noticed. Rugby was undoubtedly in pain as his body began to break down its own fat and skeletal muscle for energy and protein. Even if food had been provided, it should have been obvious that Rugby was not receiving proper nutrition. Veterinary care would have been necessary to address the underlying condition contributing to his lack of appetite, provide appropriate nutritional support or discuss quality of life, humane euthanasia.

ACC investigators questioned why it appeared Rugby was not fed or taken for emergency medical attention when Camlia should have determined her dog was clearly in need of expert attention.

“While any reasonable person would look at his pet and see that he couldn’t eat or drink, and was shrinking to bone, Michael Camelia chose to do nothing but wait and see if Rugby was going to die Based on the facts above, there is probable cause to charge Michael Camelia with one count of animal cruelty, FSS 828.12.2 and one count of animal cruelty, FSS 828.13.

Camelia was sentenced to Palm Beach County Jail and released on $3,000 bond. It was not immediately clear why Animal Care and Control waited more than two years to shut down Camlia.

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