FREEHOLD – A man who locked an 8-month-old pit bull dog in a small wire cage and left that cage in the rising tide of the Sandy Hook Bay in the Highlands has been found guilty of fourth-degree animal cruelty.
A Monmouth County jury delivered the guilty verdict of Aaron D. Davis, 36, of Long Branch yesterday, according to a statement by Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Davis heard the verdict after a three-day trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux. He faces a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and up to 30 days of community service when he returns to LeMieux’s courtroom for sentencing on February 14, 2020.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Division conducted an investigation after a passerby spotted a dog in a crate on a small portion of sand between the bulkhead and the water at approximately 6 a.m. on July 30, 2018.
The passerby climbed over the ropes, down the rock barrier and onto the sand to rescue the dog, who was later named ‘River.’
Davis had taken the puppy following a domestic dispute in the early morning hours according to authorities. Highlands police responded to the domestic incident and captured video footage of the puppy which helped to identify the dog the next day.
“If it were not for the passerby’s actions, the dog would have likely drowned due to the rising tides,” Gramiccioni said.
The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Amanda Dalton Clark. Davis is being represented by attorney Adamo Ferriera of Hackensack.