Distraught Actor Commits Suicide After Putting Dog to Sleep

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A struggling soap opera actor took his own life last week after he euthanized his dog, claiming that harassment by his condo association had forced him to betray his best friend.

Nick Santino was found dead just a day after he put down his beloved pit bull, Rocco, on his 47th birthday. Santino, who appeared on All My Children and Guiding Light, blamed the board at One Lincoln Plaza (his apartment building) for the decision to put down the dog, saying that he and other dog owners were subject to constant harassment.

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

One Lincoln Plaza put strict dog regulations in place in 2010, including a ban on pit bulls. The regulations were grandfathered, but Santino said he and other dog owners were subject to relentless pressure to get rid of their dogs.

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

Rocco was prohibited from riding in the main elevators and bogus claims of excessive barking were filed against him.

“The dog was not a barker, but somebody complained that the dog would bark,” Cleary said. “He felt like he was in this battle because he was the only guy in the building with a pit-bull mix,” he added.

Another neighbor, Lia Pettigrew, agreed. “Everybody knows that he had been harassed by the building management.”

Santino made a last phone call to his former girlfriend at about 2 a.m. Wednesday. He was found dead in his bedroom Thursday from an apparent overdose of pills.

Apparently the pressure he was subjected to was just enough to force the actor to make a decision that he could not ultimately live with. A heart breaking note on Facebook from Santino indicated his frame of mind in the last few hours of his life. Despite his torment, his admiration for Rocco was clear. “I did not rescue Rocco, Rocco rescued me.”

28 thoughts on “Distraught Actor Commits Suicide After Putting Dog to Sleep”

  1. It’s unfortunate that he did not think of the option of re-homing the dog – then maybe they’d both still be alive.

    • Anyone who would make a comment like this has never had a dog, or any pet for that matter. Animal haters need to stay out of this conversation.

      My heart goes out to Nick and Rocco. At least they are together now. Blessings to them on their journey.

      • The person makes a very valid point. A true animal lover would have had the pet’s best interest at heart, not their own.

    • I agree with Anonymous, that is the first thing I thought of was why didn’t he just find it a good home or found them both a different place to live, I know I would live on the street before I put my dog down because I am told I can’t have it where I am living.

      • Thank you k9kat. Your post sums up what I have been trying to put in words. I am right there with you. If he truly loved the animal he would have done anything for it, not put it down. It’s very sad what happened and I guess he realized what he did was wrong, hence taking his life.

      • We don’t know his living circumstances. Perhaps he had bought his condo and it was not easy to sell it, perhaps he could not find pet-friendly accommodation nearby. How can we criticise and opine if we are not in his shoes?

  2. RIP, Rocco and Nick. The ignorance and intolerance of others cut short your precious lives. I pray that the not-so-human race learns compassion. <3

  3. What’s with all of the comments about how he should have found somewhere else to move, or rehomed the dog? And to the person who said it is not a dog issue, it’s a mental health issue – REALLY? Would losing the one living thing that is ALWAYS there for you really not push you over the edge if you were already in a bad spot (I’d imagine if he could afford to move he would have… not everyone has that luxury, especially with the economy like it is). Absolutely disgusting that he was harassed for something that should not have been an issue, since he was not actually breaking any of the rules, apparently.

    • I appreciate your comment Shannon. I couldn’t agree more. I think the suggestion that this man is “selfish” and that his actions are attributed to the “nature of mental health issues” is missing the point and yes the condo management is at fault!

      Although I would never and I mean never put down a healthy dog, the age or health of his dog are not clear in the article. But, what is clear is that this man was subjected to daily harassment and that alone is enough for me to blame the condo management. To change condo bylaws after a renter is already a resident in the building and then begin harassing him is not only wrong it is shocking to me that a business would resort to such unprofessional and abusive tactics. Other residents even stated in the article that he was not only targeted daily but his dog was falsely accused of barking. So are we to ignore the actions of the condo management and focus the blame on a man that clearly loved his dog but was forced to do something so egregious as to euthanize him and then out of tremendous guilt commit suicide?

      Don’t pass judgment until you have walked a mile in another man’s shoes. We have no way of knowing the persecution this man had to endure. Everyone has a breaking point and he clearly met his. That is not proof of mental illness; insurmountable hopelessness, grief and despair perhaps, but not necessarily a predisposition of mental instability. No one is saying or condoning the choices he made but we could at least show some compassion toward him, given the sad situation he was forced into.

      Renters do have rights and even if policies change this does not give the condo management carte blanche to harass this man.

      If we had any sense we would all be outraged by his treatment! Given the current economic climate we are all probably just one or two paychecks away from being homeless and easily made vulnerable to intimidation tactics inflicted by cowards hiding behind so-called bylaws!

      • Suicide is one of the most selfish acts that anyone can perform. Even though it is most often done out of desperation and the person involved has suffered terribly with depression or some other mental illness the act itself cannot be blamed on anyone but the person doing it. Of course it sucks that this condo (luxury condo I need to add) did him wrong by nagging him about his dog. But he chose the easy way out. Period. He should have taken his dog and moved. Anywhere. People need to be held accountable for their actions and this case should be no different. I am an animal lover and a survivor of suicide and the choice he made when he had his dog put to sleep was totally inexcuseable. So don’t blame the condo management. Just like fat people, don’t blame McDonald’s. It isn’t McDonald’s that crams the food down the person’s throat is it? No, it’s the person.

        • REALLY??? “EASY WAY OUT”??? OMG. I cannot believe the attitudes I see here. “NAGGING”??? Likely YOU, “anonymous” are probably a very talented bully and are sticking up for other bullies. If you are as you claim a “survivor of suicide” well your snotty and arrogant opinions are certainly not what I have seen as a volunteer in the field of health issues including mental health. Surviving a near death experience ideally gives you a healthy dose of compassion – I guess you were off the end of that train when compassion was being passed out. And your truly evil victim-blaming for “fat people”? You might try educating yourself on the FACTS which are that many people are FAT because they have no money for anything ELSE but McDonalds and FOR THAT there is blame to be squarely placed on the true FAT CATS who caused the Second Great Depression and who are STILL CAUSING IT and all the while collecting their obscenely huge BONUSES for doing it!

  4. If you truly love something you are willing to do whatever is within your power to proctect it. Having a healthy dog put down is not protecting it, no matter what the situation is. Obviously the guy was severely depressed in order to do something as selfish as putting his dog down and then killing himself but it’s not the condo’s fault. I’m sure he felt like he was powerless but that is the nature of mental illness. It is tragic that this doggie was caught up in such a nightmare.

  5. sad for Nick, and sad for Rocco…This sounds similar to a person who commits suicide after relentless bullying & torment…The Apt. Board played a huge role in this, all because of a certain breed 🙁

  6. Hearing this really made me very sad. Sadder even that some management company had force him to put his dog down, making him feel even more depressed and taking his own life.

    Nick was a great guy and had been thru a lot in his life. He had always felt he was alone and had no one. He grew up in an orphanage in NYC and left the system at a young age to care for himself by age 16 after being shuffled around into several different homes before he was even a teenager. After, he went out on his own he started several businesses supporting himself as he entered college to complete degrees in Engineering and in Finance. He volunteered during 9/11 as an ConEd Engineer to go into the fallen Twin Towers buildings to search for victims, a task that probably fueled his depression further.

    Rocco was his savior, so to speak. He was Nick’s companion and best friend and made Nick feel wanted and needed, and for some management company to push fake complaints against his dog and driving Nick to do something that he knew he shouldn’t have and finally pushing him to the point of suicide is unforgivable. Shame on them! Everyone should be ale to have someone, even if that someone that gives them a will to live is a dog or cat. To take that from them is sinful.

    I hope Karma catches up with them soon. They really deserve it.

  7. As the previous writer states Nick had always felt so alone his entire life — he did not want Rocco to be left alone anywhere either! He knew very well all about being alone and being lonely and he was not about to give up Rocco that he Loved so very much ! Yes ,he was depressed , he had other problems that he was already struggling with and probably could not deal with much more ! Nick then has the Landlord further complicating his Life ……….he had just had enough and could deal with any more problems! I feel so much Empathy and Compassion for Nick he could not take anymore of what “Life was dealing him”. This Economy is pushing ALOT of people into situations where they do not want to be ! Imagine how low Nick must have felt to be in his Final Position he must have felt he had no other way out for he or his Best Friend Rocco ! We need not to think we have the Answers or to pass critical judgement ……this serves absolutely no purpose in Nick or Rocco’s Lives ! God Bless Nick and Rocco !


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