The elderly cocker spaniel whose former Brick Township owners escaped jail time after admitting to abusing him, has died.
The New Jersey SPCA released a statement Monday night saying that the dog, named Sammy, died Monday afternoon.
“It is with heavy and broken hearts that we announce that our darling Sammy passed this afternoon,” a statement said. “He was in the arms of his loving father, who soothed him and held him while he peacefully passed.”
The dog’s owners said he suffered a stroke recently and was having a difficult time walking and eating. He was 19 years old.
“Martin and I and so many many of you will never be the same after knowing Sammy,” a portion of the statement written by his adoptive owners said. “Martin and I and so many many of you will never be the same after knowing Sammy. His soulful eyes, his sweet spirit that shone through his beautiful face. Yet in that little baby was such strength. Sammy Strong!”
The dog’s original owners, Keith Morgan, 56, and his ex-wife, Shauna Kennedy-Morgan, of the Maple Leaf Park development in Brick, were charged after authorities said Keith Morgan brought the dog to the Monmouth County SPCA in March 2013 claiming he had found him on the side of a road in Wall Township.
Investigators ultimately determined that the Morgans owned the dog, who was starving, emaciated, had a 104 fever and was covered in so much of his own urine and feces that his fur was matted to his skin, causing severe irritation and burns.
The Morgans pleaded guilty to charges of animal abuse and were sentenced by Brick Municipal Court Judge Robert Lepore to six months in the Ocean County Jail. But both Morgans avoided jail time when they appealed the ruling, with Superior Court Judge James Blaney ruling in March that the six-month penalty was excessive according to state statutes.
Keith Morgan’s defense attorney said at the re-sentencing hearing in Toms River that his client suffered from end-stage kidney disease and was “overwhelmed” with taking care of the dog after his wife left him in 2012. The explanation drew vocal protests by animal rights supporters inside of the courtroom, some of whom Blaney had removed by Ocean County Sheriff’s Department officers.
Keith Morgan was sentenced by Blaney to 90 days of house arrest and five days of community service, while Kennedy-Morgan was sentenced to one year of probation and 30 days of community service.
After receiving months of treatment at the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital, Sammy was adopted by a family who already owned other cocker spaniels. Though they were never identified by name, the family would often post photos of Sammy playing in their yard on Facebook, while providing updates on his health.
“He overcame so much then spent his last years in heaven on earth with his father,” the statement said. “Now he will be in heaven.”