SYRACUSE - A Massena man who left his dog locked inside a car while he attended the New York State Fair has avoided jail time.
According to Syracuse.com, Patrick J. ONeill, 66, of 326 Haverstock Road, was promised a sentence of three years probation on Monday in connection with the death of Ali, his black Labrador retriever, whom police say was locked inside a 100-degree car for more than four hours on Sept. 2 .
Following the reported death of ONeills dog at the state fair, an online petition was launched on the website Change.org urging Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick to upgrade the misdemeanor animal cruelty charge to a felony count of aggravated animal cruelty. While the petition received more than 2,700 signatures, the misdemeanor charge remained.
ONeill, however is not yet in the clear, as 22 charges of animal cruelty remain pending against him in Massena Town Court.
Mondays sentence prompted outrage in the Syracuse community, with the article announcing his sentence receiving nearly 60 comments in less than 24 hours.
Many of those commenters referenced the remaining charges, which were filed in Massena several months prior to the death of his dog at the fair.
In May, ONeill was charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty following a two-day long investigation of his Haverstock Road property.
While searching the property, police found the remains of four horses including one described as a rotting corpse that authorities believe had been dead for at least two weeks. At that time police removed more than 20 horses from the property.
Following the 23rd charge of animal cruelty lodged against him, after ONeill left his dog inside his car at the state fair, a team of investigators from the State Department of Agriculture & Markets, Massena Humane Society and New York State Police executed a warrant at the property to do a condition check on the dozen or so horses remaining at the property.
Police determined at that time, while many of the horses were in need of hoof care, deworming and a brushing, their condition did not merit seizure.
At that time, ONeill was represented by Mary Rain, who has since been elected St. Lawrence County district attorney. Given the conflict of interest that exists with Ms. Rain prosecuting that case, former Assistant District Attorney James Monroe has been named special prosecutor in this case. Officials with Massena Town Court said they were unsure at this time who was representing ONeill for the remaining charges.
He is due to reappear in Geddes Town Court for formal sentencing on May 5.
Attempts to reach ONeill, who has an unlisted telephone number, were unsuccessful.