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No justice for Ali: Oneill pleads guilty, gets probation, 22 charges pending

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Apparently there will be no justice for Ali, the Labrador Retriever that died inside an overheated car at the NYS Fair last September. Despite extensive lobbying by animal advocacy groups, Patrick J. Oneill was assured a sentence of only three years probation in Geddes Town Court yesterday, while 22 charges of animal cruelty in an earlier case remain pending. Oneill could have received a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Ali was left in the Massena man's car for more than four hours in 100-degree heat while he attended the fair on September 2. The dog had no water and the windows were only slightly cracked. By the time police approached the vehicle after being notified about the animal's plight, a crowd had gathered. The black Lab was in the throes of respiratory arrest and seizing. Despite police attempts to revive her, Ali died at the scene.

Oneill will be unable to own any dogs or other pets during his probation. However, he may retain the horses he already owns while awaiting the outcome of another case in which he faces 22 counts of neglect of 22 horses on his property early in 2013.

According to an article at Syracuse.com, Oneill was insistent he be allowed to tell his side of the story about the death of his dog. The Town Justice, Daniel Matthews, informed the defendant he did have the right to trial, but it appeared Oneill only wished to make a statement on his own behalf, saying, "People haven't heard both sides of the story."

However, when pressed by the Justice to submit his plea, Oneill responded, "It's a struggle, but I guess I do admit to that charge."

Sentencing in this case is scheduled for May 5. Further legal action is still pending in the case of the neglected horses in St. Lawrence County.

New York animal advocacy groups continue to work for greater measures to address severe cases of cruelty and neglect. State Senator Greg Ball and State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco continue to advocate for tougher laws, a statewide abuse registry and the removal of animal abuse laws from Agricultural and Market law to the auspices of criminal law where it will carry more weight, allow for stiffer penalties and be easier to interpret.

Says Senator Ball, "This statewide registry will prevent repeat animal abuse offenders throughout New York state. I urge New Yorkers to sign this petition and to contact their legislators to let them know the importance of protecting our furry little friends. Those who commit crimes against animals represent some of the worst kind of people, and often expand their carnage to their neighbors and the larger community. Most people can agree that the level of respect and kindness shown for animals, creatures who cannot speak for themselves, or protect themselves and are easily abused and taken advantage of, is a fine predictor of how a person will treat their peers. Violent and cruel behavior towards animals cannot and should not be tolerated.”

Please continue to advocate to strengthen New York State's animal cruelty laws and the development of a statewide abuse registry. Visit the NYS Animal Advocacy Day Facebook page for more information.

Remember May 28th is NYS Animal Advocacy Day in Albany, N. Y.

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