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North Country woman charged with felony animal cruelty

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New York State Police have charged a St. Regis Falls resident, Shawna A. Bero, 29, with felony aggravated animal cruelty in the case of a four-year-old Pit Bull left outside continuously. The female dog had been left in the cold for so long that ice frozen in a chain collar caused it to become embedded in the dog's neck.

According to articles in the Watertown Daily Times and the Press-Republican, the dog appeared to have been left without supervision much of the time.

The dog, named Mary J., belongs to the woman's boyfriend, Mackenzie D. Durant, 30, who is incarcerated at the Franklin County jail in Malone. He left his dog in the woman's care last November, according to the NYSP Troop B information officer, Trooper Jennifer Fleishmann, and remains in jail.

It is alleged that while in Ms. Bero's care, the dog was chained outside around the clock. Although the dog was reportedly being fed, ice accumulated in the links in the chain collar, causing it to gradually sink five centimeters into the dog's neck over time.

Ms. Bero told police she called a relative of Durant's to take it to the vet after observing the dog's head was swollen and the animal appeared ill. The dog was taken to Lake Placid Animal Hospital where the examining veterinarian reported the findings to the state police. The chain had to be surgically removed.

A Siberian Husky at the residence was taken into custody and placed with an animal shelter in Malone. However, there was no evidence that animal had been abused. Ms. Bero was given an appearance ticket and is scheduled to answer the charges in Waverly Town court at a later date. The Pit Bull is now being cared for by a family member of Mr. Durant.

To report cases of suspected or obvious animal abuse in Jefferson County contact:

Watertown Police Department: 315-782-2233

Jefferson County Sheriff Department: 315-788-1441

New York State Police: 315-782-2112

A local animal rescue group may also be able to help. Contact the "Ninjas Against Animal Cruelty of Jefferson County" via their Facebook Page.

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