When a human being intentionally and systematically abuses defenseless animals that cannot fight back or defend themselves, it’s despicable. And because we now know that there’s a link between animal cruelty and violence against human beings, stories like this really make us sit up and take note.

The owner of a pet store in Long Island is in jail tonight on animal cruelty charges. Apparently, Robert Lawrence was routinely starving some of the dogs in his care in a secret basement at his pet store.

Check it out per Newsday:

The Nassau County SPCA said its investigators found a malnourished 6-month-old Labrador retriever caged and unable to stand in the basement of a North Merrick pet store.

The investigators went to The Puppy Store at 1163 Merrick Ave. on Jan. 30 after a complaint, Gary Rogers, spokesman for the Nassau SPCA said.

“We took the dog to a veterinarian and after an examination the owner was charged with failure to provide proper care,” Rogers said.

He said store owner Robert Lawrence, 40, a resident of Woodmere, surrendered Friday morning and would be arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead on charges of overdriving an animal, torturing and injuring animals and failing to provide proper sustenance.

A man who answered the phone at the store declined to comment.

Here’s more from Patch:

According to the SPCA, the organization received a complaint on Jan. 30 about The Puppy Store, located at 1163 Merrick Ave. in Merrick. The SPCA investigated the store, and allegedly found a 6-month-old Labrador Retriever puppy in a cage in the basement that was unable to walk. It appeared that the animal had been confined to his cage for sometime.

The SPCA detectives investigated, and on Friday arrested the store’s owner, Robert Lawrence, 40, of Woodmere, for failure to provide veterinary care to a dog in his store.

And according to reports, it appeared as though this was not an isolated incident. An investigator, who spoke off the record, noted that the basement looked like dogs were routinely housed down there and the conditions were pretty disgusting.

So while people were shopping on the ground floor, smiling and playing with the happy animals, below their feet dogs were starving to death. This is inexcusable! This man should go to prison for this.

How much time should he get?