The man charged with leaving a pit bull in a cage to drown in the Sandy Hook Bay was trying to get payback against a romantic rival, authorities said Monday.

Aaron Davis, 34, is being held without bail pending trial on third-degree and disorderly persons charges of animal cruelty.

The dog was discovered July 30 by a woman who had been walking her own dog at Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands.

Jennifer Vaz has been fostering the dog, which she named "River." This week she announced that she would be turning the dog over to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals because her own dog has not taken well to the new dog.

During a detention hearing Monday in Superior Court in Freehold Borough, prosecutors revealed that the dog — actually named Blaze — belonged to the ex-boyfriend of Davis' girlfriend. The woman has children by both men.

According to an Asbury Park Press report, the prosecutor said that the ex-boyfriend, Benito Williams, tried to break into the woman's home but Davis stopped him and both ended up in a fight. Davis acted with "malice and depravity"  to eliminate an "emblem of his enemy," a prosecutor said in court.

Aaron D. Davis
Aaron D. Davis (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

Vaz said her decision "was the hardest thing that I've ever had to do. Even though I've never been a parent it feels like I'm losing a child."

Ross Licitra, executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA and head of the Prosecutor's Office Humane Law Enforcement Division, said the dog will not be returned to Williams.

"There's been an enormous amount of attention in regards to (River) and the MCPSCA's adoptions will handle this. They're going to do a foster to adopt pending the legal ramifications of the case," Licitra said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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