Animal cruelty charges against NN boarding facility withdrawn, some dropped

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Who is responsible for the death of two dogs that suffered injuries at a Newport News boarding facility?

In 2017, in separate incidents, two dogs received fatal injuries while boarding at Coastal Dog Services in Newport News.

The death of one of the dogs, Fenway, an Australian Shepard, drew national attention and inspired legislation aimed at making boarding facilities safer.

Wednesday, the business and the alleged owner went to court to face animal cruelty charges. However a question of ownership led to charges dropped and withdrawn.

From those two cases, eight charges came up against the business and the man who told 10 On Your Side he is the owner: Rick Tvelia.

Off the bat, prosecutors withdrew the charges against the business. That is because according to records, Coastal Dog Services ceased to exist as a corporation in 2012.

That fact caused a strange series of events. The remaining four charges of animal cruelty were for Rick Tvelia.

The first case, involving a chocolate lab that died in June of 2017, went forward. But during the presenting of evidence the judge kept pointing out: prosecutors hadn’t established Rick Tvelia as the owner of the business.

Tvelia’s attorney put in a motion to strike for the first incident and the judge agreed. Both charges from the June incident were dropped.

Given the pattern developing, city attorneys decided to withdraw the remaining criminal charges against Tvelia.

After court, we wanted to find out who owns Coastal Dog Services. Tvelia told 10 On Your Side in August of 2017 that he was the owner. But, outside of court he said: “no comment.”

The six withdrawn charges can be brought back at a later date.

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