An NYPD officer and his wife each face up to a year in jail after being convicted of animal neglect in the starvation death of their pet dog, the Nassau County prosecutor's office said Thursday.
It took a jury about three hours to convict Rose Neira, 32, and her husband, Danny Neira, 41, of Farmingdale, of misdemeanor animal neglect, prosecutors said. They are due back in court Dec. 11.
Rice's office said the couple failed to provide food and medical care for the 2-year-old dog, and it weighed 87 pounds when it was discovered at the home on Nov. 22, 2010. A normal, healthy Great Dane should weigh between 120 and 150 pounds at that age, prosecutors said.
The animal died on Dec. 1, 2010, despite round-the-clock care from veterinarians, Rice's office said.
Rice said that investigators went to the Neiras' home after receiving multiple tips about a neglected dog at their address.
Investigators found the Great Dane named Zack was "grossly emaciated, with protruding ribs and its backbone visible through its skin," according to the news release.
Rose Neira initially claimed that the dog's condition was due to parasites, but she could not provide the name of a veterinarian for the animal or produce medication being given to the dog, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors seized the dog on Nov. 23, 2010, and the Town of Oyster Bay's Animal Control transported the dog to Oyster Bay Animal Hospital, where it was treated by a veterinarian for 10 days.
Rice said in a statement she was shocked at the level of cruelty and neglect the couple showed toward the dog.
"There is no excuse or explanation for this level of cruelty and neglect," Rice said.An NYPD spokesman said he did not know about the case so he could not immediately comment on Danny Neira's status.
The release said several "reptiles, turtles, birds and fish were also observed living in unsanitary conditions inside the Neira home, many of which were seized by authorities."
The couple's attorney, Robert Del Grosso of Mineola, said the charges are false, calling the case "disgraceful." He said neglect wasn't the cause of death and that the defense never had an opportunity to conduct its own necropsy on the dog because the animal was cremated.
He added that the husband was living in the Bronx at the time of the death and had been for a year before the death because the couple were separated.
He said the officer is on modified duty. Del Grosso said he expects to win an appeal, which he will file after the sentencing."Oh, there will be an appeal," Del Grosso said, "and I feel very confident."