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Couple sentenced in animal cruelty case while NY stiffens penalty for pet theft

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40-year old Oyster Bay, NY resident Lee Hughes was finally sentenced to 60 days in jail more than a year after being arrested for failing to provide proper food and veterinary care for his pitbull, Snowball in violation of his state’s agriculture and market law. His wife, Shawanna Hughes was sentenced to 30 days of jail time and 3 years of probation for failing to provide medical care for the dog. Lee, who also was given 3 years probation. Both the Hughes are also prohibited from owning animals for 5 years and will be subject to periodic spot checks by law officers to make sure that he complies according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office.

Prosecutors in the case stated that Snowball had to have her leg amputated after it was broken and failed to heal correctly. She also had wounds on her neck from apparent chemical burns that had become infected, as well as injuries to her tail and paws. A separate case in which a pitbull puppy named Miss Harper found with an infected “improperly amputated leg” and other injuries has also been tied to the couple and a veterinary aide from Westbury, Reginald Smith.

Both dogs have since recovered. Snowball has already been adopted, and veterinarians caring are fitting Miss Harper with a prosthetic leg for her.

In the meantime Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he has signed an amendment to New York’s pet theft law increasing the penalty for stealing a pet from $200 to $1,000, effectively immediately.
“For many New Yorkers, a pet can be an extension of their family, which is why pet theft is a particularly heartless crime. Increasing the penalties for stealing or harming dogs, cats and other animals is an important way that we can crackdown on this crime,” he stated.

It is also against the law here to remove a collar or other identification, including microchips without permission from the animal’s owner, as well as seize an animal under its owner’s control, and to transport one without authorization to sell or kill it.
Note: According to data collected by the American Kennel Club, there were close to 600 reported pet thefts in 2013, ranging from animals taken from homes during robberies to dogs being taken from parked cars and snatched from animal shelters and pet stores.

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