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Charged and on the run: Illinois man accused of leaving dog in pickup truck along I-94, animal died

Javier Franco

Javier Franco

KENOSHA — Javier Franco of Joliet, Illinois is accused of leaving a dog in a pickup truck on an August afternoon. That dog died while in the vehicle — leashed and with the windows shut. Franco, 34, is now charged with the following:

  • Mistreatment of animals, repeater
  • Obstructing an officer, repeater

According to the criminal complaint, a sheriff’s deputy was traveling southbound on I-94 in Kenosha County on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 11 when he noticed a pickup truck parked in the shoulder. It had Illinois license plates.  When the deputy got up close to the vehicle, he saw a “dog on the floor curled up.” But all the windows to the vehicle were closed, including the sunroof. The passenger door was unlocked. The complaint indicates once “the door was open, a huge gush of hot air hit (the deputy) from inside.” The deputy noted it was uncomfortably hot inside the truck — and “the dog was not breathing and there were no signs of life.”

The deputy noted in the complaint that the dog had a leash that was connected to a harness “that was caught in between the center console and the passenger seat. There was very little slack and it would have been impossible for the dog to get up to the front compartment of the truck and possibly be seen by passing motorists.” The deputy indicated “the dog suffered greatly before dying from the extreme heat inside the vehicle.”

A check of the registration on the truck showed it was registered to a trucking service in Bolingbrook, Illinois. When officials reached out to the name and phone number listed in the paperwork, the complaint indicates it was Franco who spoke with them, allegedly posing as the person named on the paperwork. While on the phone, Franco “appeared anxious and asked if his truck was found,” the complaint says. The complaint says Franco indicated by phone it had been about four hours since his “truck either ran out of gas or broke down.” Franco told investigators he ran to the Bristol Renaissance Faire and “some guy gave him a ride to a gas station, and when he went back to look for his truck it was gone.” When Franco asked where the dog was, he stated, “that’s my little buddy.”

The complaint says investigators later learned Franco was house sitting and dog sitting for a woman and the man whose name was on the paperwork for the truck. Both of them were out of the country at the time.

The charges against Franco were filed on Tuesday, Aug. 20. An arrest warrant has since been issued for Franco — since authorities have only spoken with him by phone.

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