Actor Commits Suicide After Being Pressured To Euthanize Dog

Soap opera actor Nick Santino and his beloved Pit-bull, Rocco can be counted as two more victims of bullying and harassment in our society. The grief stricken actor tragically committed suicide last week after pressure mounted from tenants at his New York condo to euthanize his dog.

Last Tuesday was Nick Santino’s 47th birthday, but the soap opera actor who appeared in “All My Children and “Guiding Light” was too heartbroken to notice. Earlier that day, he had taken his 5 year-old dog to the veterinarian to be “put to sleep.”

“Today I betrayed my best friend and put down my best friend,” Santino wrote in a suicide note, said close friend Stuart Sarnoff. “Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this.”

Santino put the blame on strict dog regulations that went into effect in 2010 in the One Lincoln Plaza apartment building where he and Rocco lived. Those regulations included a ban on Pit-bulls. Rocco and other large dogs that already lived in the building were allowed to stay, but it became apparent they were not wanted by fellow tenants or the management.

Tenants say the dog owners were subjected to “relentless pressure” to get rid of their pets. And as the owner of the only Pit-bull in the building, Santino and Rocco got the brunt of the harassment.

“People were complaining about his dog,” said neighbor Kevan Cleary. “It was open season on him.”

Rocco wasn’t allowed to ride in the main elevators and false claims of excessive barking were filed against him. Management threatened Santino with heavy fines and restricted the number of hours he could leave the dog alone in his apartment.

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

After Santino put Rocco down, he gave some of his dog treats to the doorman of the building. The doorman said his eyes were overflowing with tears. Later he left Rocco’s dog bed and two rawhide bones at the doors of other neighbors.

That night Santino made a final call to his former girlfriend and at 2a.m. on Wednesday, police found his body in his bedroom. He passed away after an apparent overdose on pills.

Nick Santino who was raised in an orphanage and foster homes, adopted Rocco from a shelter. He wrote on his Facebook page, “I did not rescue Rocco, Rocco rescued me.”

Rocco’s ashes will be buried with Santino.

Meanwhile the board of directors at One Lincoln Plaza say they are not responsible for Santino’s death. “It’s all a shame, condo board member Marily Fineman told the New York Post: ‘But it has nothing to do with the pet policy.’

Take Action: Animal Farm Foundation is hosting  “A Vigil for Victims of Canine Discrimination” on February 4 in memory of Nick Santino and Rocco.


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Photo from sugarhiccuphiccup via flickr

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nicole ryan
nicole ryan1 years ago

Yes it is, partially at least. harassment is the same as bullying and that is what happened here. you can only take so much, and ending his dogs life, was the final push.

Loretta P.
Loretta P.2 years ago

The harrassment this man received must have been relentless for him to stoop to this. I feel so bad for him. I would have moved before putting down my dog. Now they are together again, forever.

Jane R.
Jane R.3 years ago

Such a sad story! I wish he would have came up with an alternative plan. There was no need to have this dog put to sleep! I can feel his sorrow and desperation. What a waste of 2 lives!!

Susan H.
Susan H.3 years ago

It is utterly horrible what One Lincoln Plaza and all of the tenants did here, and they have blood on their hands. However, I am in tears and can't begin to understand why the guy didn't find Rocco another home, move to a different building, get Rocco to a rescue group, etc., etc. before making the horribly permanent decision to kill an innocent 5 year old dog. Obviously, Nick must not have been able to live with that decision, and I honestly can understand that it would have been very difficult to forgive yourself and move forward after something like that. This is just so tragic.

Saying that you've seen good pit bulls snap perpetuates breed discrimination, which is what triggered this whole sad story. EVERY dog, of EVERY breed and mutt variety, might snap under the right circumstances! It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with breed. The sooner everyone gets this, the sooner we can say that this kind of story will never happen again.

Aimee A.
Aimee A.3 years ago

One Lincoln Plaza, you ARE responsible for two deaths, you murdering pieces of dung!!! Signing the Vigil now ...

Jolie D.
Jolie Determan3 years ago

I think that it is just ridiculous how prejudiced some people are against pitbulls. YES, some are mean. YES, some hurt people. BUT it is NOT their fault. The dogs don't decide to fight other dogs of their breed. They do not abuse themselves to make them mean. Blame the scum who force them to become mean, not the dogs.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

This story broke my heart. I can imagine how Nick Santino felt. If the people in the apartment complex were pressuring him to get rid of his beloved dog and with all the restictions, he probably felt he had no other choice (Moving would have been an idea, but maybe he couldn't for some reason).
I can imagine his feeling of depression and lonliness after taking Rocco to the vet to be euthanized.
If he was out of work, that could have added to his depression. Maybe everything got to him all at once.

Rest in Peace, Nick and Rocco. You can walk the Rainbow Bridge together.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

Those neighbors are guilty of this tragedy. If the man was constantly harassed by his neighbors, the board should have intervened. Unless the board was behind it, then they should all step down and accept their responsibility.

Sarah M.
Sarah M.3 years ago

It is heartbreaking what they did to this man and his dog. They are fully to blame for two deaths and it is repulsive that they refuse to acknowledge it.

William B.
William Barratt3 years ago

It is so sad Nick Santino was not able to reach out for help, at what must have been a very harrowing time. I hope you and rocco can rest in peace now.