NILES, Ill. (CBS) — A 37-year old homeless man has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning his dog in an empty apartment in the northern suburbs.

Niles Police Sgt. Robert Tornabene said a mixed-breed dog survived 53 days in an empty apartment on “no food and very little water,” and nearby residents never figured out no one but the dog was in the unit.

“Obviously, the dog fell between the cracks,” he said.

Tornabene said the dog’s owner, 37-year old Hojin Lee, had been evicted from a large condo/apartment complex in the 9000 block of Terrace on New Year’s Eve, and left his dog Bruno behind. No one called police about it until February 22nd.

Tornabene said it’s possible others in the complex didn’t hear a dog or, if they did, thought it belonged to one of their other neighbors.

Bruno weighed only about 9 pounds when found, but should have been 23 to 26 pounds, according to Tornabene. The dog was nursed back to good health at a Skokie animal hospital and he’s been adopted.

Lee has been homeless since his eviction. He was arrested at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, either while he was being treated there or right after he was discharged. He’s been charged with cruel treatment of an animal and violating the Humane Care for Animals Act, both misdemeanors.

He was freed on a $10,000 signature bond and was due back in court on April 18.

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