A man is facing animal cruelty and theft charges after he mistreated his pup, raised $14,000 – about £9,900 – in donations for his ‘medical bills’, and then killed him.

Reid Herjo, from New Jersey, US, set up a fundraising page on crowdfunding website GoFundMe, claiming that his 14-week-old German Shepherd Dog, Atlas, had been the victim of a hit-and-run and was in urgent need of surgery. A photo of the wounded pup caused an outpour of donations, and almost 700 donors raised $14,000 in less than a month.

However, the police laster established that there had been no hit-and-run: in the few weeks he lived with Herjo, little Atlas suffered from serious injuries on at least two separate occasions. On 3 February Atlas died while in Herjo’s care, having suffered additional injuries. On March 28, officers charged Herjo with third-degree animal cruelty as well as third-degree theft by deception for using his pup’s injuries to scam donors.

All money donated to the GoFundMe page, now closed, will be returned – although nothing can bring back little Atlas.

“This user has violated GoFundMe’s terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund. Additionally, this user has been banned from our platform,” a GoFundMe spokesperson said in a statement.

“It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation.”

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