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DA: Long Island woman jailed in animal abuse case

Shawanna Hughes, 37, of Oyster Bay, was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to an animal cruelty charge, Nassau County prosecutors said.
Photo Credit: Nassau County DA's Office

A Long Island woman has been sent to jail after admitting she failed to provide proper care for her dog by ignoring the pit bull’s leg injury – leaving the pup untreated for several weeks before veterinarians were forced to amputate the dog’s leg, Nassau County prosecutors said Thursday.

Shawanna Hughes, 37, of Oyster Bay, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 30 days behind bars at the Nassau County jail and given three years of probation. Nassau County District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer also signed an order that will prohibit Hughes from owning animals for the next five years, according to the DA’s office. Under the order, law enforcement officers will be permitted to check on Hughes to ensure her compliance, officials said.

Hughes pleaded guilty in March to an animal cruelty-related charge in connection with the October 2012 incident. Prosecutors said her pit bull-mix, Snowball, had suffered a broken leg and that the injury had gone untreated for weeks before the fracture healed incorrectly. The injury caused “permanent disfigurement to the animal,” and veterinarians found it necessary to amputate Snowball’s leg, the DA’s office said.

“This defendant left this serious injury untreated for weeks, causing pain and severe disfigurement to a defenseless animal,” DA Rice said. “This sentence ensures that Ms. Hughes will not be able to subject any other animals to cruel neglect for a substantial period of time, and will be held accountable for her actions that led to an innocent animal losing its leg.” Hughes’ husband, Lee Hughes, was also arrested following the animal cruelty investigation. He pleaded guilty in February and is currently awaiting sentencing.

In addition to this case, Shawanna Hughes also faces a multitude of other criminal charges for unrelated matters, prosecutors said. She has pleaded not guilty to drug sale and drug possession charges after an arrest in January and also has another pending animal cruelty case to which she has pleaded not guilty. In that case, which is being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office, Hughes, her husband and a veterinary assistant, Reginald Smith, are alleged to have improperly amputated the leg and ears of a pit bull puppy. Both cases are continuing.

Authorities said Hughes will spend an additional eight months at the Nassau County jail after being sentenced Wednesday for allegedly violating probation. The probation followed a conviction for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, according to the DA’s office. Hughes’ attorney could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.

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