A Freehold man has been sentenced to serve five years in a state prison on charges of
animal cruelty after admitting last year that his neglect caused the deaths of four German Shepard puppies in his care, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.
Daniel McDonald, 26, was sentenced on Feb. 12 by state Superior Court Judge
Vincent N. Falcetano Jr.
The five-year concurrent sentences in a New Jersey state prison included four third degree animal cruelty charges and one charge of third degree receiving stolen property for being in possession of a stolen tractor out of Monroe Township, Middlesex County.
As part of his plea agreement in November, McDonald entered into a consent order and agreed never to own, reside with or take into his care or custody any living animal or creature, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
McDonald was also ordered to perform 30 hours of community service on each of the four animal cruelty counts and to pay $800 in restitution to the owner of the puppies. The sentence is also concurrent to pending charges in Bergen and Middlesex counties, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Falcetano also ordered McDonald not to have contact with the victims; not to have contact with two witnesses; not to return to the locations where the puppies were stolen in Franklin Township and killed in Howell; and not to return to the location where the tractor was stolen in Monroe Township.
Gramiccioni said the animal cruelty charges are related to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies that were found deceased on a property in Howell where McDonald was temporarily residing. The remains of two deceased German Shepherd puppies were found in a fire pit on the property on May 18, 2020.
Investigators from the Howell Police Department and the Monmouth County Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Law Enforcement Division, discovered the remains of two more deceased puppies which had been buried on the property.
The joint investigation ultimately revealed the puppies were stolen from a farm in
Somerset County on or about May 12, when the puppies were 3 weeks old.
Investigators learned McDonald and his co-defendant, girlfriend Tricia Jaccoma, were staying at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing and were in possession of the puppies while they were residing in a camper on the property in Howell.
Investigators also learned the puppies were ill, in distress and were struggling to breathe prior to their deaths.
A necropsy performed on the two buried puppies revealed the puppies suffered from parasites and were severely emaciated and malnourished with “no indications of recent nutritional ingestion.”
According to the press release, in handing down the sentence, Falcetano told McDonald that he “can’t conceive of any more depraved act.”
During his plea, McDonald took full responsibility for not getting the puppies the proper care, thus resulting in their deaths. Based on McDonald’s statements, the charges against Jaccoma were dismissed at McDonald’s sentencing, according to the prosecutor’s office.