A fugitive wanted on charges of leaving a caged dog in the water to drown turned himself in Tuesday.

Aaron D. Davis, 36, of Long Branch, will appear in court on Wednesday to face charges of third-degree animal cruelty by attempting to cause death or serious bodily injury to an animal, and disorderly persons offenses of abandonment of a domestic animal, failure to provide necessary care, and failure to provide proper shelter.

Jenniffer Vaz and her dog Molly found the abandoned dog in a small cage on the shore of Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands about 6 a.m. July 30. Vaz is fostering the pit bull, which is believed to be about a year old.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni did not say where Davis turned himself in or his connection to the dog except to say he was not the dog's owner.

Vaz said the rescued dog, which she named River, is doing well and getting along with Molly.

"They're having fun nap times and playtimes. He's doing really well," she said.

(Jenniffer Vaz)

Third-degree convictions can result in up to five years in prison. Disorderly persons offenses can result in up to six months in jail.

But Vaz believes people convicted of animal cruelty often get off too easily.

"There's no harsh punishment for animal cruelty so we're trying to change that with River's Law," she said.

Vaz said that no legislator has take up sponsorship of a bill. A Change.org petition is collecting signatures in support of a new law.

"What I can do is give River a voice and that's what I'm happy about. If there are no more Rivers I will be happy and so will so many people because it's not fair the way there dogs are treated."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ