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Soap Opera Actor Commits Suicide After Pup's 'Forced' Euthanasia

Nick Santino And Rocco In Happier Days
Nick Santino And Rocco In Happier Days.

A sad example of how breed discrimination affects humans as well as dogs. So sad.

— Kenn

A down-on-his-luck soap-opera actor took his own life this week after he was forced to put his beloved dog to sleep under pressure from his Upper West Side condo and became wracked by grief, pals said.

Nick Santino euthanized his dog, Rocco, Tuesday — on Santino’s 47th birthday. That night, his guilt over the gut-wrenching decision became too much to bear.

“Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend,” a despondent Santino wrote in a suicide note, said close friend Stuart Sarnoff.

“Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this.”

The Brooklyn-born Santino — a struggling actor whose TV credits include “All My Children” and “Guiding Light” — adopted Rocco from a shelter several years ago.

The man, raised in an orphanage and foster homes, soon began to write about his pet on Facebook, writing, “I did not rescue Rocco, Rocco rescued me.”

But in 2010, his building at 1 Lincoln Plaza announced strict new dog regulations, including a ban on pit bulls. The ban didn’t apply to pit bulls already in the building, but friends and neighbors said Santino began to be harassed.

“People were complaining about his dog,” said neighbor Kevan Cleary, 63, an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. “It was open season on him.”

Rocco couldn’t ride in the main elevators and wasn’t allowed to be left in the apartment alone for more than nine hours.

Santino was then threatened with a $250 fine for having a barking dog, neighbors said.

“The dog was not a barker, but somebody complained that the dog would bark,” Cleary said.

“He felt like he was in this battle because he was the only guy in the building with a pit-bull mix,” Cleary added.

Another neighbor, Lia Pettigrew, who runs a pet-care company, said, “Everybody knows that he had been harassed by the building management.”

The building’s management refused to comment yesterday.

After months of increasing anguish, Santino had the healthy dog put to sleep Tuesday.

Neighbors said a tearful Santino brought dog treats to the building’s doorman and said: “Give these to the other dogs. Rocco is no more.”

Dog owner James Steven Grant said Santino left two rawhide bones on his doorstep and earlier was seen tearfully giving away Rocco’s fluffy bed.

“Rocco was the sweetest dog in the world. Rocco wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Grant said.

He spent Tuesday in agony over what he had done to Rocco.

“He was distraught and remorseful about putting down his best friend,” Cleary said.

The last phone call he made was to a former girlfriend at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Later that day, police found his body in his bedroom. He had overdosed on pills.

According to IMDB, Santino was part of the first team to lead search & rescue on World Trade Center 9-11-2001. He used his ConEdison Engineering ID & Asbestos Certification to gain access.

Rocco has been cremated, and friends said Santino’s remains will be, too, and they will be reunited.

“One way or another, their ashes will be together forever,” Sarnoff said.

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Aquabum1
Aquabum1
9 years ago

that is so sad 🙁

Scotch_donkey
Scotch_donkey
9 years ago
Reply to  Aquabum1

Yes, it is sad, Actually, pathetic is more like it. This individual obviously had other mental issues that drove him towards suicide. And if the reason he had to put him to sleep is because of the apartment he lived in, then move away! Some best friend the dog was, between the choices of moving or ending the dog’s life he chose the latter. No, the reason he gave for the suicide was a cop-out, it was an attempt to make the people that complained about the dangerous animal feel bad.

ondraya
ondraya
9 years ago

omg . god bless you both. may you be together forever in heaven and never have another moment of unhappiness. 

Marie Rowland
9 years ago

That is sooooo sad. I’ve know people with pit bulls and they were the sweetest good natured dogs. This is a real shame and there should be something done about this law. Pit bulls are only what their owners make and that goes for any breed. Shame on the people who harrassed this man and his dog. People need to deal with far worse crimes than someone owning a pit bull.

Teresa Jeffery
9 years ago

why r people so mean? just so sad

pamorama
pamorama
9 years ago

This story tore me up when I read about it yesterday. I wish someone who cared about him had thought about helping him re-home the dog, or to find a new home himself. I also don’t feel that a dog living in an apartment SHOULD be left home alone for more than 9 hours, but the dog should never be penalized. If I put down my healthy dog for reasons such as this, I would be devastated. Having left a dog with a negligent ex-husband many years back while I tried to find housing that would allow dogs, and learning that the dog had been hit by a car and killed, I can understand this man’s pain. Very sad.

Steffney Pearce
9 years ago

That just wasn’t right of all those other people to force this poor man to put down his best friend!  I hate to say it; but I can imagine myself doing the same thing; but I would have tried EVERYTHING else first. And it is true, people and pets can die from a broken heart.  I send out prayers and condolences to the friends and any family. So sorry this had to happen due to other people’s ignorance!  You know who you are…now YOU live with the two deaths you caused!

Bell_lady47
Bell_lady47
9 years ago

SO SAD WHY ARE PEOPLE SO MEAN ..  !!!! RIP!!! BOTH OF YOU   <3 <3

Photographsbybonnie
Photographsbybonnie
9 years ago

very sad the way those innocent dogs are being treated by the small minded.  wish he could at least rehomed Rocco, sold his condo and purchases a house where the rules are your own.  Condos can be nice, but you are buying an apartment and all the rules that go with it. 

Jo Schroeder
9 years ago

My heart breaks, I hope everyone in the building that hurt this Man and his dog are ashamed of themselves.

Mrssmock03
Mrssmock03
9 years ago

Thats BS! Pits r no different then any other dog! You teach hate that’s what you get!

Elenatm78
Elenatm78
9 years ago

This is just not right. They should give him a heads up to find a new home not put to sleep. If that dog didn’t harm anyone then whats up with the threat. The apartment manager should be sued or something because they are the ones responsible for this kind cruel case. May Rocco & Satino RIP & be reunited in a happy & healthy place.

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

i hope the condo manager  is happy with him/ her self how could you force someone to put down their best friend. my thoughts and prayers go out to the family

Serenity
Serenity
9 years ago

So terribly sad and unnecessary, God bless them both and their family. I hope that those who caused his grief, will think of them every night as they try to sleep. Shame on all who bullied and harassed this sweet, devoted man, whose only fault was that he could no longer take the harassment, threats and isolation of others. Maybe those who did this and the building management should check to see how many criminals and sex offenders live in their building, those who pose a real threat to them, not some innocent dog who didn’t cause a problem. Those offenders shouldn’t turn this around on Santino and make accusations that he wasn’t stable because he killed himself, they are the ones with blood on their hands. He was grief stricken and guilt ridden for what he was forced to do. This all sickens me. May they both RIP.

Mlbrogdon
Mlbrogdon
9 years ago

This is very sad, and a poignant example of how BSL harms dogs and people. However, it doesn’t sound as if this man was actually forced to put the dog to sleep. He could have moved. He could have rehomed the dog. He could have tried to find another solution. It appears that he was emotionally unstable. Outrageous though, that his landlord and neighbors would be so mean-spirited.

Debbie
Debbie
9 years ago

There was no reason for this to happen. i firmly believe that it’s not the breed of dog that’s bad it’s the people training them. i have 2 dogs who are part of the family and i don’t know what i would do if i had to put them to sleep. This man and his dog were harrassed to death by other human beings. Is this the way we should treat each other? NO!!!!!! i believe that he and his dog will be reunited in Heaven

Animal Care Worker
Animal Care Worker
9 years ago

Really? What kind of a person kills their dog because they can’t have it in their home anymore???? MOVE OR REHOME IT!!!! The harrassment is aweful though !!! What he CHOSE to do about the situation is the really sad thing here.  His choice of suicide would have eventually happened regardless of the dog situation because clearly he was having some mental/emotional issues. 

cukeymonster
cukeymonster
9 years ago

you just double talked.

Animal Care Worker
Animal Care Worker
9 years ago
Reply to  cukeymonster

How do you figure I ‘double talked’?

cukeymonster
cukeymonster
9 years ago

and they say the dogs are mean!

Joanmuna51
Joanmuna51
9 years ago

I am so over people not thinking that people that have pets treat and care for them like children. Would they tell him to put his child to sleep i am so sick over theim god bless them both

marine69
marine69
9 years ago

I have to agree with “Animal Care Worker”, before you start posting how mean I am, let me say that I am very saddened over the death of this gentleman and his dog, however my first thought was he should have attempted  to find a friend or a boarding facility to keep his pet while he looked for another place to move too.  It does not sound like he attempted to do these things. Im sure he had the financial means to do so. This man was suffering from other issues, he was an orphan and lived in foster homes, Im sure he was suffering from depression already before the harassment and the bullying pushed him over the edge. I wish friends would have seeked him to get help. I suffer from clinical depression and with my last bout considered suicide, however it never caused me to consider having my dog “lucky” euthanized, even though I was out of work, because i could not work due to the depression, I was nonfunctional, and moved 3 times in several months. Lucky went with me and he was actually what kept me alive. I worried who would take care of him if I was gone.  I also have raised a pit bull so my answer had nothing to do with the breed. This gentlemen was already in such a state I feel he felt he had nowhere to turn and rather than leave his dog to strangers he chose the later for him and his dog. I am completely disgusted with the vet who chose to euthanize this wonderful friendly healthy dog. He could have asked this gentlemen for ownership of his pet in an attempt to find the pet a home. A sad story all the way around. I volunteer at our local shelter, and see many dogs put to sleep even though they are healthy and friendly, due to owners dropping them off and leaving them  to the shelter to try and make space. Maybe he wasn’t in a state of mind to look at his options, just like family members who take their families down and them kill theirselves. So So sad.

Guest
Guest
9 years ago
Reply to  marine69

Who made you God?

Bonita
9 years ago
Reply to  Guest

I don’t think he’s saying he’s God, but he’s right ! and  that is also exactly what came thru my mind , why did this gentleman that saddly took his life, didn’t consider other options for himself and his dog? I don’t know his emotional situation as a fact, we can only go for what the article says, but as with that little information that the article gives us, it does raise questions which are totally normal. I don’t feel noone is judging, we are simply thinking and writing our thoughts… why did this guy didn’t move or find another place for the dog in the mean time with friends or relatives. There’s always options for everything. He chose this option. It’s sad, but i’m sure he could’ve handled this differently. But then again… we don’t know the real facts. Who made you marine’s 69 judge ?  BTW… Just saying. 

Loriann48
Loriann48
9 years ago
Reply to  marine69

I agree with you, why didn’t he find a friend or kennel his dog until he moved.  I rather have a bad credit report than putting down my best friend 🙁

Angiecci
Angiecci
9 years ago

This man clearly had emotional issues, depression, something… No one made him put his dog down. That was his decision. The article stated he “rescued” the dog. I work with rescue and if someone finds at any time.. they can’t keep the dog, we take it back. I am sure most rescue groups work this way. He had choices…he picked the wrong one because he was dealing with his depression or mental issues. The management and all those in the complex who harassed him are horrible, but they did not do this. What he did to his dog and himself was the cowardly choice.  As far as pits go.. I know some and they are the sweetest, loving dogs.. Mean Pits are all the cause of the owners… Depression is not easy to deal with.. I am sorry he had these problems and was not strong enough to “fight” for his dog and his rights..

Swampdiva1964
Swampdiva1964
9 years ago

That is so very sad…

Mardro00
Mardro00
9 years ago

I just wonder, if they are putting down dogs because they are pit bulls, are they going to put down the monsters who mistread them, torture them and make them fight each other for money or fun?
I don’t think so, just take a look aat Michael Vicks, still playing on the NFL. we live in a big hypocritical society. Shame on us.

Karlyn23
Karlyn23
9 years ago

This is horrible. How is this any different than racism or discrimination of a person? Rocco was just a dog in a pit bull suit and all the people that unfairly judged him should be ashamed of themselves and maybe they’ll learn what their ignorance caused!

Barbara Sauder Pecze
Barbara Sauder Pecze
9 years ago

God created both man and dog. To harass someone with lies, to put his dog to sleep, is just plain, sick and mean, and then the poor man commits suicide, what tragedy. Why do some people have to be so downright mean; these people must not like themselves, to do such a thing!

Susanmccallum
Susanmccallum
9 years ago

this is so sad.
if one only knew how much ourbdogs mean to us.they are like our child.how would they like it if we wanted them to get red of their child.have a heart people, have a heart.

Guest
Guest
9 years ago

That is stupid. Why not just give the dog to someone else?
And no, I have no sympathy for anyone who commits suicide. It’s the most selfish and useless thing to do. He put friends, family, and fans through grief just because he was sad. Ridiculous.

Serenity
Serenity
9 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Wow, you are a very cold hearted and unsympathetic person. Let’s hope that you never feel so sad, alone and desperate to commit suicide. Yes it deeply hurts those left behind forever, but he obviously just wanted the pain to stop. Let’s hope for your sake, that you are never touched by that depth of sadness. It would do you some good to work with those who struggle each day to get out of bed, they feel so sad the every day tasks that we do each day, are just too much for them. They may suffer from an illness, may be in pain, physical or emotional, have lost a job, their home, a loved one or even a beloved pet. Maybe if you give some time to others,  you will develop what most of humanity is born with ….EMPATHY.
I don’t know what is sadder, this story, or someone like you who can’t feel the pain of others.

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