Former puppy owner charged with animal cruelty

Judge orders Tank to stay away from the puppy.

Shane Tank pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges on Friday. — Abigail Rosen

Shane Tank of Vineyard Haven, who is accused of throwing a puppy so hard against a bureau that it broke the tiny dog’s bones, was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of animal cruelty.

Tank, whose name had previously been withheld by police at the request of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s office, was released on his personal recognizance, and ordered to stay away from Pongo, a mixed-breed puppy.

Animal Control Officer Kate Hoffman reported the incident to the Tisbury Police on March 30, after being notified by Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists (CCVS) that a 12-week-old puppy was being treated for extensive injuries inflicted by its owner. 

CCVS determined that the puppy, named Pongo, sustained a “right humeral fracture, head trauma, pulmonary contusions, [and] possible rib fractures” from being thrown against a bureau, according to a police report.

Tank allegedly told Hoffman that “he was playing with the puppy on the bed with his daughter” in the moments leading up to the incident, the report states. In the report, “Tank admitted that he ‘tossed’ the puppy after it ‘became aggressive’” toward his 3-year-old daughter.

In an affidavit for a search warrant written in the event Tank would not voluntarily surrender the puppy, Hoffman cited that she “saw the bureau that Tank threw Pongo against, and noted that it had to be approximately 12 feet from where the bed was.” She added, “The dog would have to be thrown with great force to not only reach the bureau, but also to cause those types of injuries.”

Tisbury Police Sgt. Max Sherman stated in his report on March 31 that upon a home visit and seeing the location of the incident, he “knew the dog had to have been thrown with significant force to hit the bureau that far away and cause so much physical trauma.”

On March 31, Tank agreed to come to the Tisbury Police Station and sign documentation officially surrendering custody of Pongo to CCVS.

Police reports state that Hoffman “has spoken to a lot of animal cruelty professionals, all of whom state that Tank should not be allowed to get Pongo back.”

At the arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Matt Palazzolo said “based on the potential penalty” Tank faces, he requested bail be set at $500, noting that Tank’s records include prior charges in Connecticut and on the Island. 

The animal cruelty charge is a felony.

Defense attorney Casey Dobel argued for no bail, considering Tank has already spent “thousands of dollars on medical bills” for the puppy. Dobel then accused Palazzolo of playing politics in his pursuit for bail, because the case has gotten press and “it’s an election year.” Palazzolo’s boss, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, has announced he is not running for office, though one of O’Keefe’s assistants, Dan Higgins, has announced he is a candidate.

“I’m a good man,” Tank told The Times in an interview after his arraignment. “I was scared for my daughter; I didn’t mean to hurt the dog.” He added that the dog has, in the past, bit him and drawn blood.

Of the felony charge, Tank said, “This isn’t something that I’m taking lightly.”

Tank called the incident “heartbreaking,” adding that he and his girlfriend “have been complete basket cases” over what happened. “I’m a good father,” he said, “I’m not an abusive person.”

Tank said he frequently pet-sits for his friends when they go off-Island. “I have no history of violence with animals,” he said. Tank expressed concern over how this will affect his reputation on the Island, in addition to how it will impact his daughter. “I don’t want the other parents looking at her in school like [her] dad is this terrible monster.”

On Friday afternoon, through his attorney, Tank issued the following statement: “I am deeply saddened by this incident. It was a terrible accident, and a very regrettable mistake on my part. I was scared for my daughter’s safety and acted in haste. I pray that the community can find a way to forgive me for this unfortunate event. I am not an abusive person, and this is not the man that I am or the person I am trying to become. I did everything I could for this puppy, and thank God that he is alive and well. I loved this dog, and it is heartbreaking that he will not be a part of our family, but find solace in knowing that he is OK and will live a great life. I am hopeful that the community will respect my family’s privacy during this time, and we trust that the court system will conduct its due diligence. I want to also note that I respect the Tisbury P.D., and that I know they are doing what they must to uphold the law.”

Judge Benjamin Barnes released Tank on personal recognizance and ordered that he have no contact with the dog.

Tank is the chef and owner of the catering business Premier Chef Services. He is scheduled to appear in court July 1 for a pretrial hearing.


  1. Clearly this man needs anger management help. To throw a dog that far, that hard is a red flag and unacceptable. And I can’t help but wonder about the claims of previous biting. Was help sought from a trainer? Was the dog biting out of fear? Lots of questions.

  2. It is not enough that this individual apologizes to amend his public reputation, and pays for the medical care to correct the vile damage which he inflicted on this entirely vulnerable, innocent, precious puppy — now physically and psychologically harmed and traumatized for the rest of his life. The puppy will have significant human trust issues forever. Has Mr. Tank apologized to the puppy? That’s the problem. In fact, the least Mr. Tank should do is provide the medical care to rehabilitate and correct his vicious abuse and harm to this animal. What he did was an abhorrent act of violence, against a completely vulnerable animal — and he hurt the animal very badly. There must be his full acknowledgement of his abuse, and serious punishment for such a heinous act. That is the reason why laws of protection exist in our country. When they are horrendously violated, comparable consequences are warranted. Thank God for the Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists. Needless to say, any further proximity to animals by Mr. Tank, especially pet-sitting, should be absolutely prohibited going forward. He cannot control his fear and anger. Animals do not deserve that level of physical threat and harm from any human being.

    Deep prayers of love, peace, and healing for sweet, innocent, precious puppy, Pongo.

    “The greatest of a society (and individual) is judged by the way the animals are treated.” ~ Gandhi

  3. Couple things here.
    First, is what Mr Tank does for a living and the business he owns really important to this story? Can someone explain to me why it needed to be included. Kinda seems like piling on to me.
    Second, Mr Tank claims numerous times he’s an animal lover and a good person. I don’t know, to me, that’s like getting caught using a racial slur, and then claiming “I’m not a racist”
    Third, lots of blame shifting here. All of his excuses are the same ones pretty much all abusers use after the fact. “I’m a good person. I’m sorry I beat my wife, husband, child, or pet. And I really regret it” His claim, “I have no history of violence with animals” is also a dubious claim. I’ve been sober for 20+ years and had no history of OUI’s until I got my first one. But I guarantee you, my first one was not the first time I drove drunk.
    Finally, he claims he became frightened for his daughter when the dog became aggressive. Seriously, how aggressive can a 12 week old puppy be. I’ve always had dogs since I was about 25 years old, probably at least 10 a puppies. I’ve never had one bite me hard enough to draw blood…

  4. Something that hasn’t been mentioned enough in connection with this incident: A 12-week-old puppy and a 3-year-old child should not have been playing in an uncontrolled situation, period. Mr. Tank should have known this. Young children generally haven’t learned how to behave around dogs; their attempts to play may trigger a self-protective response from even a mature, well-trained dog. My guess is that something like this happened, and Mr. Tank took it out on the puppy in a most violent manner. What he saw as aggression was most likely the puppy’s attempt to protect himself. It was Mr. Tank’s job to protect both the puppy and the child. He blamed the puppy for his own failure.

    I cringe at all the “cute” videos on social media of toddlers and very young children interacting with dogs, apparently with no adult supervision. Sure, there’s an adult holding the phone or videocam, but a dog reacting to, say, an accidental poke in the eye will move a lot faster than an adult a few feet away. If people learn anything from this sad situation, I hope it’s that young children should be closely supervised around pets of any kind, especially puppies.

  5. He’s states numerous times that he’s not an abusive person. Meanwhile, in 2020 he was arrested and arraigned for battery/assault on a family member. Clearly his definition of abusive is different from mine.

  6. It’s too late to educate this fellow, but for future puppy owners, “A puppy who bites your hands isn’t “bad” or defective in some way – she’s just displaying normal species-specific behavior for a young dog. This puts the burden on you to manage your interactions with her to help avoid problems, and to have patience and empathy while she learns.” (From an Vet’s blog, “Living with Jaws”)

  7. My only issue with this article is why they felt the need to publish this man’s business name?? I have zero sympathy for him but feel like this went a step too far.

  8. Anyone knows today that animal abuse is the precursor to human abuse. I’d also be concerned for any child in his care…..”Premier Chef Services” is the name of his business and nothing is private in Google. He put his own company’s name there and he also appeared in a 2020 magazine article. Taking a 12-week puppy and breaking his bones is not a person I’d want any personal or commercial business with. Period.

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