October 22, 2021

Wolf Fun

Plink Plink Pets

Police: Teen admits abandoning stolen SUV with dog inside, leaving pet to die

A teenager has pleaded guilty in juvenile court to stealing an SUV with a dog inside one afternoon this summer, then abandoning the vehicle and leaving the pet behind to die.

A Subaru Outback, its engine running, was stolen July 24 while parked outside a restaurant near Payne and Sims avenues as the driver was picking up food. Inside was GoGo, a German shepherd-husky mix, owned by Katie Klaren of St. Paul.

The vehicle was discovered three days later parked nearly 4 miles to the west. GoGo was dead inside.

Along with pleading guilty Friday in Ramsey County District Court to animal cruelty and auto theft, the 16-year-old also admitted to shooting a young person in the leg outside the Frogtown Community Center on May 20.

The pleas come with no agreement on the terms of his sentence. Those will be determined at a hearing set for Sept. 14.

The Star Tribune is withholding publication of the teenager’s identity because he is a juvenile.

According to the charging document:

Klaren left GoGo in the SUV with the engine running and the air conditioner on while she went in the restaurant. The University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory determined that the dog died from heatstroke. The temperature in St. Paul that day topped out at 92 degrees.

Surveillance video viewed by police showed someone get out of a minivan and then drive off in the SUV. Three days later, a witness alerted police to the vehicle in the 1000 block of Ryde Street.

On July 30, investigators identified a fingerprint inside the SUV as belonging to the teenager.

Questioned on Thursday by police, the teen denied stealing the vehicle. He said he opened one of the SUV’s doors, then shut it upon seeing the dog inside. He said the dog appeared “ready to die because it was hot,” the court filing quoted him as saying.

Klaren said that while she’s grateful for the effort police put into the case, “Nothing can bring GoGo back to our family. … We will adopt another dog, but everything takes time.”

She said police told her that the teen has a fairly extensive criminal history. This is at least the fourth time the teen has been accused of stealing vehicles in the Twin Cities, according to prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in one case, and two others are pending.

“It’s really sad,” Klaren said. “I hope that he turns his life around. … I hope that this is rock bottom for him.”

GoGo joined Klaren’s family in January, after the death in July 2020 of a dog they had for 16 years.

Klaren’s two daughters, ages 4½ and 1, miss their most recent family companion they knew for barely six months. “GoGo really loved them,” she said.

“Our older one knows we lost our first dog, and now she knows we lost GoGo,” Klaren said. “We told her our first dog asked GoGo to play with her. Now they are playing together. She accepted that answer freely.

“It’s hard to explain that to someone that age, especially when you are crying.”

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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