Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Woman Fined $1,500 for Leaving Dog to Die

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Woman Fined $1,500 for Leaving Dog to Die

Article excerpt

A Bergen County woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday and was fined $1,500 for abandoning her dog, which was found dead in her former residence. Animal advocates who rallied outside the courthouse denounced the penalties.

Speaking in a low voice and saying few words, Jennifer Caruso, 36, stood next to her attorney and explained to Judge Louis Dinice of Central Municipal Court that after she moved from Northvale to Norwood in November with her children, she shuttled back and forth between the two residences. But in December, she left her dog, who was 11 years old and had lived with the family for more than six years, in the care of someone else.

"I didn't follow up,'' Caruso said.

She pleaded guilty to abandoning the dog, who was named Sully, and failing to provide the dog with food and water. Charges filed against her for not providing shelter or veterinary care were dismissed.

Police found the dog's emaciated body inside the home at 442 Crest Drive on Feb. 18 when they responded to a report of an alarm going off and water seeping under a garage door.

Police said at the time that Sully, a Greater Swiss mountain dog, apparently had been left alone for an extended period and may have eaten couch cushions because there was no food left in the house for him.

After the judge confirmed with the prosecutor that Caruso would be placed on probation for six months and that she would be processed following the proceedings, Kay Riviello, president of No Kill-New, began to yell toward the judge.

"Do we realize that the dog is dead,'' Riviello shouted, leading the judge to direct a Bergen County sheriff's officer to remove her from the courtroom.

"The dog is dead. Dead," Riviello shouted before leaving the courtroom. "She killed the dog.''

Afterward, standing outside the courthouse on Hudson Street, Riviello said she planned to make a complaint to Roy McGeady, the presiding municipal judge in Bergen County, saying that state law requires that Caruso get a minimum of 12 months' probation. …

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