A Nassau County judge sentenced a Mineola man Wednesday to one year in jail after he admitted beating and killing two puppies in 2019 in a case Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said was one of the worst ever prosecuted in the county.
Ellie Knoller, 32, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals and was ordered to serve jail time after prosecutors had sought a maximum 2-year sentence. Judge Teresa Corrigan also sentenced him to 5 years probation upon his release and banned him from owning any animals for 50 years, Nassau County prosecutors said.
“Three defenseless puppies were subjected to extraordinary violence by this defendant,” Donnelly said. “The internal injuries these animals sustained are uncommon — even in animal abuse cases — and are consistent with terrifying blunt force trauma. This case stands apart in the decades of animal crimes this office has prosecuted as one of the worst we’ve seen.”
Prosecutors said they began investigating Knoller and his wife, Jessica Kuncman, Feb. 27, 2019, after an 11-week-old Goldendoodle puppy named Bella was taken to a Westbury veterinarian. The vet found Bella had internal bleeding, broken ribs and a broken leg and had to undergo surgery to have one of her legs amputated.
She was later adopted by a Long Island family and recovered from her injuries.
Bella had been given to Knoller after he complained to a Pennsylvania breeder about another puppy from the same litter unexpectedly dying after two days.
Authorities said Knoller bought a Goldendoodle puppy named Cooper on Feb. 18, 2019, from the breeder and two days later he brought the puppy in cardiac arrest to a Garden City veterinarian. Cooper died before the vet could examine the puppy, but found the cause of death was from blunt force trauma, prosecutors said.
Knoller had adopted his first puppy, 10-12-week-old shepherd mix named Tucker, from a local shelter 10 days earlier. The puppy died a week later from blunt force trauma and internal injuries, prosecutors said.
Kuncman was initially charged with one count of animal torture, but the case was adjourned while prosecutors consider dismissing the charge if she avoids further arrest.
Donnelly called on harsher penalties for animal abuse cases.
“New York State’s animal crime laws need to be strengthened and we encourage our legislators to review the horrors associated with this case,” Donnelly said. “I thank our partners at the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the local veterinarians who assisted our investigation.”