A Levittown man whose attack on his 11-year-old German shepherd left the dog with injuries so extensive that it had to be euthanized was sentenced Tuesday to 4 months in jail, prosecutors said.
Michael Gallagher, 57, also was sentenced to 5 years of probation after pleading guilty in September to felony aggravated cruelty to animals and agreed not to own or control any animals for 20 years, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release.
“This defendant admitted to beating his dog, Bella, with a shovel and attempting to strangle her with a zip tie,” said Singas, who recommended a 2-year prison sentence. “These types of inhumane actions against animals are heinous and unjustifiable, and should serve as a rallying cry for the state to finally enhance penalties for those convicted of felony animal abuse.”
But when Gallagher gets out of jail, he is expected to return home, where his wife owns three dogs, said his attorney Lawrence Cárra of Mineola. Under an agreement that sought a balance between Gallagher’s punishment and his wife’s love for the dogs, the attorney said, his client has promised not to have any “control” over the dogs, including walking or taking care of them.
A spokeswoman for Singas’ office said the agreement calls for supervised contact any time Gallagher is around the dogs.
Gallagher, who retired last month as a plumber’s helper for New York City schools, loved his dog Bella, but he was “under the influence of alcohol” when he killed her Dec. 23, the attorney said.
“This was an isolated incident and he himself cried when he came to the realization of what occurred,” Cárra said.
Singas said that the beating did not kill the dog immediately. Witnesses realized that Bella was still alive after seeing her head move slightly, the prosecutor said.
When Gallagher’s wife arrived home, she cut the zip tie from the dog’s neck and rushed the dog to an animal hospital, Singas said.
The veterinarian determined that the injuries, which included blood and tissue coming out of her head, were fatal, and euthanized the dog to prevent further pain and suffering, Singas said.