Authorities Saturday night were searching for a miniature poodle dumped from a car by an Islip Town animal shelter employee -- the same man prosecutors say stuffed a live dog in a gas station trash bin.
Michael Papini, 30, of Babylon, has been charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty, abandonment of animals, petty larceny and other crimes.
Papini, who works as a kennel attendant at the Bay Shore shelter, was arraigned Saturday in First District Court in Central Islip. He was released after posting $500 bond and did not enter a plea.
Shelter staff heartened by the rescue of the gray-and-white female Lhasa apso named Cherry five days ago are now fearing for Bailey, the cream-colored male poodle.
The Suffolk SPCA is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the recovery of the missing dog.
Authorities say Papini dumped 5-year-old Bailey from a parked vehicle on Cooper Street in Babylon Village about 7 a.m. on Dec. 23, shortly before he dropped Cherry in a Dumpster behind the USA station in West Islip.
That 11/2-year-old dog had been placed in a cardboard animal carrier and covered with two black plastic bags. She apparently escaped by chewing her way out of the tied bags, SPCA chief Roy Gross said.
An Islip Town spokeswoman said Saturday that Papini "has been immediately suspended without pay for this alleged act, which disturbs all of us at the Town of Islip."
Papini was identified after news outlets aired surveillance camera footage showing a sport utility vehicle driver dumping a plastic bag at the gas station at 7:42 a.m. on Dec. 23. Other surveillance footage shows the same driver dumping the poodle, according to authorities.
Papini was arrested Friday at his home at 15 Green Ave., authorities said.
"I find it very disturbing that somebody would do that, and somebody working in an animal shelter makes it that much more disturbing," Gross said.
Papini's lawyer, Mary Elizabeth Abbate of North Babylon, said her client has made no admissions.
SPCA detectives broke the case after shelter workers used a microchip found in the Lhasa apso to locate her owner, identified in court papers as Joanne Murphy.
She told detectives that she knew Papini, and when she could no longer care for her pets, he offered to take Cherry and Bailey to the shelter for adoption.
Murphy said she paid him $250 to carry out the task, according to court papers.
Gross said it's a mystery why Papini didn't keep his end of the deal.
A homeless man rummaging through the trash bin the morning of Dec. 24 spotted the dog, who has recovered from her ordeal and will soon be put up for adoption, officials said.