Officers of the Putnam County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are calling it one of the worst cases of emaciation they’ve ever seen. Kathryn DeStefano of Carmel, NY starved her dog Suzy to death. Ms. DeStefano finally brought Suzy to a veterinarian once she thought her dog was dead, but Suzy was barely clinging to life. Suzy died shortly after being brought to the hospital.
We are asking the Town of Carmel to increase her misdemeanor animal abuse charge to a felony aggravated animal cruelty charge, and to impose the highest punishment allowed by law whether she is ultimately charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Ms. DeStefano has met the requirements of NY AGM LAW § 353 by obviously failing to provide Suzy with proper sustenance. In order to be charged with a felony, it must be proven that Ms. DeStefano intentionally starved Suzy to death.
Ms. DeStefano has been quoted by online news outlets that she was unable to care for Suzy due to increased hours at work. She was also quoted as being an animal lover, activist, and volunteer for animal rescue groups. She was quoted as saying that Suzy was eating but still losing weight. Someone who has never owned a dog can see from Suzy's picture that Ms. Stefano waited way too long to seek medical attention for Suzy. Since Ms. DeStefano was so involved in the welfare of dogs, she should have known long before Suzy's death that she needed medical attention which supports my argument that the starvation was intentional. I always believe there are three sides to every story. The first side I heard from were multiple news outlets quoting Ms. DeStefano as having "good intentions". The picture of Suzy looks as far from good intentions as anything can get. We do not believe that anything Ms. DeStefano will say can justify her good intentions gone wrong because of increased hours at work. It takes about two minutes to put some kibble in a bowl. I know it is hard, but look long and close at Suzy's picture. Suzy tells us her side of the story by her physical state on her last day of life. Suzy had infected pressure sores and scabbed ulcers most presumably due to her continuous starvation. This is not the result of a couple of days of "forgetfulness" that Ms. DeStefano owned a living being of whom she must feed. This is the result of intentional infliction of extreme physical pain over a very long period of time and the ultimate death of Suzy. We believe this case meets the requirement for aggravated animal cruelty charges.
We believe Kathryn DeStefano intentionally caused serious physical injury by means of starvation and the ultimate death from said injury. We believe Kathryn DeStefano's misdemeanor animal abuse charge should be increased to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Whether Kathryn DeStefano is ultimately charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, we respectfully request the Court to impose highest punishment provided by law.
Please see below for supporting law.
The misdemeanor charge Ms. DeStefano is being charged with reads as follows:
N.Y. Agriculture and Markets Law § 353 "Overdriving; torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance"
A person who overdrives, overloads, tortures or cruelly beats or unjustifiably injures, maims, mutilates or kills any animal whether wild or tame, and whether belonging to himself or to another, or deprives any animal of necessary sustenance, food, or drink, or neglects or refuses to furnish it such sustenance or drink, or causes, procures or permits any animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed, or to be deprived of necessary food or drink, or who willfully sets on foot, instigates, engages in, or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, is guilty of a class A misdemeanor of paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section 160.10 of the criminal procedure law, shall be treated as a misdemeanor defined in the penal law.
The felony charge we believe Ms. DeStefano should most appropriately be charged with reads as follows:
N.Y. AGM. LAW § 353-a "Aggravated cruelty to animals"
1. A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this section, "aggravated cruelty" shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.
2. (Cites unrelated content about lawful hunting of wildlife)
3. Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony. A defendant convicted of this offense shall be sentenced pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section 55.10 of the penal law provided, however that any term of imprisonment imposed for violation of this section shall be a definite sentence, which may not exceed two years.
How we ultimately handle this case will lay the precursor for future animal abusers. We are respectfully asking the Town of Carmel to acknowledge the severity of Suzy's condition and to consider felony charges against Kathryn DeStefano.