A Jersey Shore man who killed a Navy veteran’s service dog in training has been sentenced to 90 days in jail.
A judge recently handed down the term in the Ocean County Jail to Joseph Russo, a condition of five years of probation. The 25-year-old Stafford man had pleaded guilty in June to causing serious bodily injury and death to the dog, a 3-year-old Pomeranian named Diesel.
Russo had rented a room to the dog’s owner, Abigail Russel. He told the owner that Diesel had died after suffering a seizure in May.
But the owner contacted township police, and a necropsy found the dog had bruising on its skull and a severed spinal cord.
Besides the jail term imposed Friday, Russo also must complete 30 hours of community service, undergo anger management counseling, and cannot own or work with animals during his period of probation.
The case was prosecuted under “Patrick’s Law,” named after an emaciated pit bull who was found after being thrown down a trash chute, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
The law, adopted in 2013, prescribes increased penalties for abused, neglected, and/or tortured animals. Fines for animal abuse are $3,000 for the first offense and between $3,000 and $5,000 for the second offense plus potential jail time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.