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Levittown dog abuser gets new charge: Failure to register with abuse registry

Michael Gallagher was arraigned in District Court in

Michael Gallagher was arraigned in District Court in Hempstead and charged with second-degree criminal contempt for disobeying a court mandate not to own an animal, and failing to provide his personal information to the registry, both misdemeanors. Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Levittown man, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to beating his German shepherd with a shovel, causing injuries so extensive that she had to be euthanized, was rearrested Wednesday for failing to register with the county’s Animal Abuse Registry — becoming the first resident to be charged under Nassau County's 2014 law, records show.

Michael Gallagher, 59, was arraigned in District Court in Hempstead and charged with second-degree criminal contempt for disobeying a court mandate not to own an animal, and failing to provide his personal information to the registry, both misdemeanors. Gallagher pleaded not guilty and was held on $1,000 bail. 

Gallagher pleaded guilty in 2017 to a charge of felony cruelty to animals for a December 2016 attack on his dog, Bella.

Prosecutors said Gallagher admitted putting a zip tie around the neck of the animal, putting her in a black plastic bag and beating her with a metal shovel. When Gallagher's wife arrived home, she cut the zip tie from the dog's neck and rushed her to a hospital. The veterinarian ultimately euthanized the animal to prevent any further suffering, officials said.

Gallagher was sentenced to four months in jail, five years' probation and agreed not to own an animal for 20 years. He was released from jail on Nov. 28, 2017, records show.

But when a detective from the Nassau SPCA and a county probation officer visited Gallagher's home Wednesday they discovered a dog named Lila in his room, court records show. Officials also found a notice, dated March 15, from the SPCA informing Gallagher of his failure to sign up for the abuse registry, records show.

The registry requires adults convicted of animal cruelty to register with police and provide their name, address and a photograph. Failing to register is punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Lawrence Carra, Gallagher's Mineola-based defense attorney, said his client only recently received the SPCA notice and had planned to register. "He was not aware of the obligation," he said.

Carra says Lila is legally owned by Gallagher's wife and daughter. "Our contention is that Mr. Gallagher is not the owner of the animal," Carra said.

Gallagher is due back in court on Monday.

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