WAREHAM — A Wareham man faces animal cruelty charges after he allowed an unleashed dog to wander in and out of traffic on busy Cranberry Highway, and left another in his house as it filled with natural gas.

According to a release on the Department's Facebook page, on October 21, the Wareham Department of Natural Resources was notified of an individual who was having a medical emergency that also had his dog with him. The man, identified as Robert Proctor of 18 Martin Street, was seen walking in and out of traffic on Cranberry Highway. The dog, a small Yorkshire Terrier, was unleashed and running in and out of traffic as well.

While Proctor was being treated for his injuries by Wareham EMS, bystanders who called 911 were holding Proctor's dog, awaiting the arrival of a Natural Resources Officer. As a result of the call, Proctor stated he had his other dog at home, and gave permission to the Department to retrieve it while he was at the hospital.

The Deputy Directors of Natural Resources and a Natural Resources Officer responded to the residence at 18 Martin Street. On arrival, officers detected a strong odor of natural gas, but were unsure of the source. The doors to the home were locked, but officers observed a partially opened window. In an attempt to see if the dog was inside the home, officers peered into the window and detected an overpowering odor of natural gas eminating from inside the residence. At that time, it was determined by the officers to vacate the area and notify the Fire Department.

Onset Fire officials arrived on scene, made entry, metered the house and found natural gas to be over combustible levels, rendering it an unsafe environment. They also found the source of the natural gas: the stove burners and oven were left on but not ignited, allowing for the gas to build up inside the house.

Fire officials ventilated the house, and gave the all-clear for Natural Resources Officers to rescue the dog. The dog appeared in good health and was active. The dog was transported and monitored by shelter staff. The other dog that was picked up from the scene on Cranberry Highway was also transported to the shelter.

As a result of the investigation, the Department of Natural Resources says it determined Proctor had endangered one of the small dogs, inflicted unnecessary cruelty upon the other at the house, and failed to provide necessary sustenance to the animals. Proctor has been charged with animal cruelty, and will also receive a citation for violation of the leash law. A hearing date has been scheduled at Wareham District Court.