Alexandria man charged with attempting to poison neighbors’ dogs

A man who was bothered by his neighbors’ dogs barking allegedly tossed poisoned meat into the yard of their Alexandria, Virginia, home earlier this month.

The dogs are safe, thanks to Heather Dinsmore spotting her next door neighbor tossing something into the yard through the Ring camera footage of her Del Ray home while her family — including the three rescue pets — were out of town on Feb. 6.

“I watched it and was shocked to see him holding a bag and breaking it apart and throwing something into our yard,” said Dinsmore.

Her husband scurried home from New Jersey to investigate, as first reported by our news partners at NBC Washington. The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria responded and within days Dinsmore was told the neighbor had thrown meat with rat poison into the yard.

John Romano was arrested on Monday, according to Alexandria District Court records. He’s charged with attempting to maim or kill fowl or animals — which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

The two hound dogs, Chester and Igor and the Mastif, named Frankie. (Courtesy Heather Dinsmore)
Heather Dinsmore says she caught her neighbor tossing chunks of meat — later discovered to be poisoned — into her yard where her dogs go out. (Courtesy Heather Dinsmore )
The Dinsmores’ three dogs are all rescues. (Courtesy Heather Dinsmore)
The Alexandria family was out of town when the allegedly poisoned meat was tossed into the yard where their dogs go out. (Courtesy Heather Dinsmore)
One of the dogs, Chester, is seen in this photo. (Courtesy Heather Dinsmore)

None of the dogs were hurt.

Dinsmore said that the couple hasn’t spoken with the neighbor, but that Romano left a letter for the family apologizing and explaining that he was tired of the dogs’ loud barking.

WTOP obtained a copy of that letter where he admitted tossing “tainted meat” into the yard and characterized his actions as “wrong, mean and stupid.”

“I have been bothered by loud barking for a long time, but this is no excuse — I should have talked with you. I truly regret and am sorry for my actions,” the letter reads.

Dinsmore said they’d been considering a move to New Jersey to be closer to family and the incident pushed up their transition.

“It’s such a great place to live,” she said. “But that was the nail in the coffin.”

In the meantime, she said the family has taken some security measures at their Alexandria home.

“Because I’m worried, we installed temporary fencing to keep the dogs from that half of the yard, just in case if he decides to do it again and we did install an additional security camera that watches that fence line,” Dinsmore said.

Romano is scheduled to be arraigned in Alexandria District Court on Monday.

“I’m glad that we caught him,” Dinsmore said. “I’m glad that there’s going to be some consequences.”

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up