HOWELL – A man pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty after confessing to neglecting four puppies which ultimately led to their deaths.
On May 18, the remains of two deceased German Shepherd puppies were found in a fire pit on a property in Howell where the suspect Daniel McDonald, 26, of Freehold, was temporarily living. The Howell Township Police Department and Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Law Enforcement Division then operated an investigation that led them to finding the remains of two more deceased puppies which had been buried on the same property.
After further investigation, it was found that the puppies, which were only three weeks old, were stolen from a farm in Somerset County around May 12. According to investigators, McDonald was residing at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing.
Investigators discovered that the puppies were very ill and in distress. Investigation also revealed that the puppies were struggling to breathe before they finally passed away. After a necropsy was performed on the two buried puppies, it uncovered that the puppies suffered from parasites and were severely emaciated and malnourished. According to investigators, there were no indications of recent nutritional ingestion.
On November 5, McDonald pleaded guilty to four counts of third degree Animal Cruelty. The charges are related to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies found deceased on a property in Howell where he was temporarily residing.
McDonald also pleaded guilty to third degree Receiving Stolen Property after admitting he was in possession of a John Deere front end loader reported stolen out of Monroe.
McDonald is scheduled to return for sentencing on January 8, 2021. According to the plea agreement, the sentencing recommendation is five years in a New Jersey state prison to run simultaneously to McDonald’s pending charges in Middlesex and Bergen counties. As part of the plea, McDonald will be required to carry out community service, and agreed to an order to never to own or reside with animals.