A 55-year-old Cheektowaga woman faces charges of cooking up a lethal batch of meatballs mixed with rat poison and feeding it to a neighbor's dog because she was upset about the animal's barking.
The dog survived, and Charmaine Twarozek of Heather Road was arrested, Cheektowaga police confirmed Sunday.
"She's charged with poisoning a dog and with cruelty to animals, misdemeanors under the agriculture and markets law," Capt. John A. Glascott said. "We've seen disputes over barking dogs before, but it's unusual to see it go this far."
Twarozek was arrested Friday night after Officer James Jenson investigated a complaint filed by her neighbor Sue Anderson, the owner of a 1-year-old German shepherd mix named Roscoe. Police said Jenson found some incriminating evidence -- a frying pan coated with remnants of ground beef and rat poison -- in the trash in front of Twarozek's house.
Anderson said she and Twarozek, whose home is directly behind hers, had been involved in a long, heated dispute over Roscoe's barking.
"We got Roscoe in February, and [Twarozek] has been complaining to the town about him since Memorial Day weekend," Anderson said. "She complained to the dog warden several times. The dog warden investigated, talked to our neighbors and declined to file charges. Our other neighbors told him Roscoe only barks at the mailman or the paperboy, not constantly."
Twarozek did not return calls seeking her comment. Glascott said he was aware of a long-standing dispute over the dog's barking but was not familiar with the details.
Anderson said she and her husband, Michael, had to take Roscoe to an emergency animal clinic.
The dog will be given vitamins for the next few weeks and will have to be examined several times by a veterinarian, she said.
Anderson said she and her husband let Roscoe out in the backyard "for about five minutes" Friday evening.
She said her husband went outside and noticed that the dog was eating something it found by the back fence, near Twarozek's property.
"My husband brought Roscoe in, and he had a meatball in his mouth. He dropped it on the floor, and I could see there were little green pellets, cooked right into the meat," Anderson said.
The couple called police, and officers with flashlights found six more poisoned meatballs in the backyard, Anderson said.
The Andersons said they believe their dog ate only one small piece of one meatball. "I think Roscoe sensed there was something wrong with it," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, Twarozek denied any wrongdoing when questioned by police. But she was arrested after officers searched her garbage and reportedly found the frying pan, ground meat and rat poison.
Anderson said she and her husband love their dog and were extremely upset.
"We take something like this pretty seriously," Glascott said. "For a lot of people, a dog is like a member of the family. Something like this tugs on a lot of heartstrings. . . . You can't take things into your own hands because you're upset about a barking dog."