A 25-year-old Manahawkin man was sentenced Friday to 90 days in jail for killing a service dog owned by a U.S. Navy veteran.
Joseph J. Russo pleaded guilty in June to killing Diesel, a 3-year-old Pomeranian that was in training to become a service dog for his owner.
Russo rented a room to the dog’s owner.Â
On May 25, the owner contacted Stafford police to report Diesel’s death. Russo had apparently toldÂ the owner that Diesel died after having a seizure.
But a necropsy report — the animal equivalent of an autopsy — showed that Diesel had a “pattern of bruising in the left temple region of the skull.” The report noted that Diesel died of “atlantoaxial dislocation and severance of the spinal cord.”
Russo wasÂ charged with causing serious bodily injury and death to the dog, a third-degree offense.
Along with the jail time, Russo must complete 30 hours of community service, undergo anger management and is not allowed to own or work with animals during his five-year probation period.Â
In 2013, former Gov. Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law,” which instituted tougher penalties for defendants charged with animal cruelty. The law was inspired by Patrick, an emaciated pit bull found after it had been thrown down a trash chute. Patrick’s owner, Kisha Curtis, wasÂ sentenced to 18 months probation and a $2,000 fine for neglecting the dog in 2011.Â
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