September 8 ,2011
On February 16 a call went to animal control about a "dead dog" in the back yard of Ms. Tucker Clementon home. Officer T. Cooper of the NJSPCA responded to the case and Rocco was found dies in the yard. The Pit-bull was taken for a necropsy. This was to be performed by Dr. Heather Lingley. Rocco had a heavy burden of whipworm and also heartworm. He also had circular erosion in the inner lining of his intestines or ulceration likely from the heavy parasite load. There was no fat surrounding the heart which is the very last fat store to be used up by an animal caused by starvation. Dr. Lingley states "the patient succumbed due to starvation; the starvation was compounded by the parasite burden, intestinal worms and heartworms". The Prosecutor as well as the NJ SPCA had no intentions of pleading this case out and in fact wanted this to go to trial. The trial was heard during the month of August 2011, in the Clementon Municipal Court where all parties testified. The most disturbing by Dr. Lingley explaining how Rocco died. Judge Larsen made his decision in September, 2011 in Berlin Borough Municipal Court. Ms. Tucker was charged with two Disorderly Persons for Depriving a Living Creature of Necessary Sustenance and Failing to Provide a Living Creature with proper food. Mr. Brandon (Shroeder) Tucker was charged with two Disorderly Persons for Depriving a Living Creature of necessary Sustenance and Cause or Procure by any direct or indirect means any such acts to be done. The NJSPCA felt that these people would be held accountable for their horrible act of intentional neglect of this poor dog. The NJ State Statute allows for Jail time when found guilty for this crime. Judge Larsen stated this was a torturous way to die, it did not happen in a brief period of time, it was long term and there was no excuse why they did not take the dog to the vet or to the shelter or anyone that would have helped out. He also stated he was merging the one ticket into the other for each defendant. This means that they would only have one count each. Ms. Tucker was sentenced to do 10 days community service and Mr. Brandon Tucker was sentenced to perform 14 days of community service. Due to their economic position they were only fined minimum 250.00 each. Officer T. Cooper of the NJSPCA asked that the Prosecutor request the other dogs in the home be turned over due to their economic hardship. Ms.Tucker stated the other dogs are fine and have been to the veterinarian.
This case was truly a heartbreaker not only for the investigator but for everyone that had to go the court. So does the punishment fit the crime? You decide.
Since 1868, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been the leading force committed to protecting New Jerseys animals from Cruelty and Neglect. For more information about the NJSPCA, please visit www.njspca.org.