Teacher held on $200,000 bail for allegedly beating dog to death
BY JAMES SCALZITTI Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org August 10, 2012 8:16AM
North Side teacher Derek Fierro and his dog that he alledgedly adopted from a pet rescue group.
Updated: September 12, 2012 6:04AM
Bond was set on Saturday at $200,000 for a 4th-grade teacher charged with beating his dog to death early Friday at his Lake View home. As a special condition of the bail, 25-year-old Derek Fierro was also ordered not to possess or have any contact with any animals.
Fierro had adopted the dog from a pet rescue organization that took it in after it was removed from an abusive home.
He could have called the organization at any time if he was having trouble with the dog, and they would have gladly taken it back, the group’s founder said on Friday.
“It’s so unfortunate how this ended up,” Lisa Klotnia of the Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation said. “This guy could have called us at any time to help him out.”
Instead, Fierro, of the 500 block of West Roscoe Street is charged with aggravated animal cruelty, police said.
About 3 a.m. Friday, Chicago Police received a call from a man saying he had been angry when he killed his dog and placed it in the trunk of his car, News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak said.
When officers arrived in the 500 block of West Roscoe, he gave them the garage code to the building, his car keys and permission to open the trunk of his car, where they found the dead dog, Kubiak said.
He told officers he arrived home and found the dog had eaten every piece of paper in the house and defecated on itself, Kubiak said. He told police he became angry when the dog continually struggled as he tried to place it in the bathtub to wash it, and that is when he beat it to death with his fists.
Fierro is a 4th-grade teacher at the Eugene Field Elementary School in the Rogers Park area, according to the school’s website. The CPS Office of the Inspector General is also investigating, a CPS spokesman said.
What happened at Fierro’s apartment was unexpected and unnecessary, Klotnia said.
The foundation checked his references, as they do with all prospective adopters, talked to his landlord or condo association, and interviewed him at his home before he took in the dog in October 2011, she said.
“It’s devastating to have this happen,” she said. “We’re a smaller group” and “we knew who this dog was right away” when they heard about the incident.
It’s especially difficult, she said, because the dog, a yellow lab-chow mix, was one of seven dogs Chicago Canine Rescue took from a shelter in Oklahoma about a year ago.
Doc, named like the others after the seven dwarfs, would have been 14 or 15 months old, Klotnia said.
“These dogs have been displaced by no fault of their own,” she said. “There’s so much effort” undertaken to get dogs into good homes, that “it’s so unfortunate how this ended up.
“There’s no need for this to happen,” she said.
Her group, like many animal rescue organizations, will work with someone who adopts a pet in case things don’t work out or if there are behavioral issues, or if the person just can’t handle the animal.
“We’ll take the dog back if there’s something wrong. If he had called us last night we would have figured out a way to pick that dog up. We try to do the right thing,” Klotnia said, “and it’s devastating to have this happen.”
Chicago Canine Rescue Foundation operates a 7,000-square-foot facility at Elston and Foster.
Klotnia said the group is working with Chicago Police and the Department of Animal Care & Control to retrieve the dog’s remains “so he can be properly cremated” and get a proper burial. Klotnia said a Chicago Canine Rescue board member has a home in a rural area in the Chicago area and the foundation is considering burying Doc there, with the board member’s dogs who have passed away.
Fierro’s next court appearance is scheduled for August 17.