Couple charged with animal cruelty in death of puppies

A couple is facing charges of animal cruelty after four German Shepard puppies in their care died due to neglect, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced on June 16.

Daniel McDonald, 25, and Tricia Jaccoma, 24, are charged with four counts of third degree
animal cruelty with respect to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies found deceased on a property in Howell where McDonald and Jaccoma were temporarily residing, according to a press release.

The remains of two deceased German Shepherd puppies were found in a fire pit on the
property in Howell on May 18.

The Howell Police Department and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Law Enforcement Division, conducted an investigation, which led to the discovery of the remains of two more deceased puppies which had been buried on the property.

The joint investigation revealed the puppies were stolen from a farm in Somerset County on or about May 12, when the puppies were about 3 weeks old.

Investigators learned McDonald and Jaccoma were staying at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing and were in possession of the puppies while residing in a camper on the property in Howell, according to the press release.

Investigators also learned the puppies were ill, in distress, and were struggling to breathe prior to their deaths, and that the pair allegedly did not get the puppies medical attention because of the costs associated with the care.

The investigation further revealed McDonald allegedly disposed of the bodies of the deceased puppies by burying two of them and tossing the other two into the fire pit on or about May 16.

A necropsy performed on the two buried puppies revealed the puppies suffered from parasites and also were severely emaciated and malnourished with “no indications of recent nutritional ingestion,” according to the press release.

In addition to the animal cruelty charges for failing to provide the puppies with the necessary care, McDonald and Jaccoma were each additionally charged with multiple counts of third degree receiving stolen property for being in possession of the stolen puppies in Monmouth County.

McDonald was further charged with four counts of hindering apprehension of oneself, disorderly persons offenses, for disposing of the deceased puppies’ bodies.

The investigation further revealed McDonald was in possession of a generator that had been reported stolen from South Brunswick, and a John Deere front end loader that had been reported stolen out of Monroe Township.

McDonald was charged with additional counts of third degree and second degree receiving stolen property, respectively, for being in possession of these stolen items. He was ordered detained at the Monmouth County jail, Freehold Township, by state Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon, sitting in Freehold, on June 10.

As of June 16, Jaccoma was listed as a fugitive by the prosecutor’s office.

If convicted of the second degree charge, McDonald faces a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison.

If convicted of any of the third degree charges, McDonald and Jaccoma each face a sentence of three to five years in state prison on each count.

McDonald is scheduled for a pre-indictment conference on July 6, according to the press release.