Did His Building’s Pet Restrictions Lead to an Actor’s Suicide?

By
Santino.Photo: Emma Cleary

Forty-seven-year-old soap opera actor Nick Santino committed suicide last week, shortly after euthanizing his dog, Rocco. Santino and Rocco lived together in One Lincoln Plaza, an apartment building that technically prohibits large dogs like Rocco, a pit-bull mix. The Post reports that though Santino was allowed to keep Rocco in his apartment — his ownership and residency predated the restrictions — he was ostracized by neighbors for continuing to keep the pet. "Everybody knows that he had been harassed by the building management," one neighbor told the paper, and allegedly the pressure got to be too much: Santino's  suicide note said, "Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend."

Surely, of course, there were other factors that led Santino to take his own life, but his death has sparked a debate over how draconian buildings can be in their enforcement of pet restrictions. One real estate broker told the Post that it's not unusual for owners to restrict their pets' diets to get them under a building's weight limit, or to drug them to avoid scrutiny from a co-op board over barking. This all just makes us really sad.