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Long IslandCrime

Shawana Hughes sentenced to year in jail in pit bull abuse case

Shawana Hughes, 40, leaves the Nassau County Courthouse

Shawana Hughes, 40, leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after being sentenced in the animal cruelty case of the pit bull mix Miss Harper on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp / Brittany Wait

An Oyster Bay woman who had her dog’s leg cut off by a veterinary office worker was sentenced to a year in jail Wednesday in her second dog abuse conviction.

Shawana Hughes, 40, also got a five-year ban on owning animals and five years’ probation in the case of a pit bull mix, Miss Harper, whose plight led to the creation of Nassau’s animal abusers registry and calls for tougher penalties for animal abusers.

She and her husband, Lee Hughes, 42, of Westbury, had each pleaded guilty in March to two felony counts of unauthorized practice of a profession and one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty for taking the dog in 2013 to Reginald Smith, an Elmont veterinarian’s aide. The botched amputation left Miss Harper with her bone and tissue exposed, but the couple did not get the animal licensed care.

The state attorney general’s office took on the case more than two years after the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals learned about the dog. “I am pleased that my office was able to secure justice in this horrifying case of animal cruelty,” Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement Wednesday. “Today’s jail sentencing sends a strong message that those who abuse and neglect the welfare of animals will be brought to justice.”

After the sentencing, Gary Rogers, head of the Nassau SPCA, said Shawana Hughes could have gotten up to 2 years in prison, and he wished she had gotten more jail time.

“How could they have done this twice?” he said. “Is it a reflection of the laws?”

In the first dog conviction case, Hughes had been sentenced in 2014 to 30 days in jail for failing to provide veterinary care from October 2012 through December of that year to Snowball, another pit bull mix. Snowball had trouble breathing due to an infected neck wound that investigators believe might have been caused by chemical burns and she also had a broken leg that later had to be amputated.

Smith was given three years’ conditional discharge at his November sentencing after he pleaded guilty to operating on Miss Harper without a veterinary license.

Lee Hughes is being held without bail until next Wednesday’s sentencing because he twice missed his sentencing.


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