A Mineola man was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail for fatally beating two puppies and seriously injuring a third during a three-week span in 2019.
Ellie Knoller, 32, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Knoller also received five years probation and a 50-year ban on owning animals.
Knoller adopted a 10-12-week-old shepherd mix named Tucker in February 2019 from a local pet adoption agency. Nine days later the puppy died from a kidney rupture inflicted by Knoller, causing internal eternal bleeding before dying.
Knoller and his wife, Jessica Kuncman, also purchased a brown Goldendoodle puppy named Cooper from a Pennsylvania breeder on or about Feb. 18. Two days later, the dog was brought into Garden City Veterinary Care in cardiac and respiratory arrest.
Cooper’s cause of death was determined to be from a lacerated liver inflicted by blunt force trauma from Knoller, leading to internal bleeding, police said.
“Three defenseless puppies were subjected to extraordinary violence by this defendant,” Nassau District Attorney Donnelly said in a statement. “The internal injuries these animals sustained are uncommon – even in animal abuse cases – and are consistent with terrifying blunt force trauma. This case stands apart in the decades of animal crimes this office has prosecuted as one of the worst we’ve seen.”
The two fatalities followed an investigation after the couple brought a lethargic and lifeless 11-week-old female Goldendoodle puppy named Bella to the Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center of Westbury in late February 2019.
Veterinarians found multiple fractured ribs, bruises on her lungs, bleeding behind her eyes and a broken leg.
Doctors performed surgery on Bella and had to insert a metal rod to repair her leg and a steel plate to hold her bones in place. One of Bella’s legs was subsequently amputated, police said.
Kuncman did not take Bella to a veterinarian for about 15 hours after she appeared to be in pain, prosecutors alleged at the time.
Bella has since been adopted by a Long Island family and has recovered, police said.
Donnelly also called to strengthen laws against animal abuse.
“New York State’s animal crime laws need to be strengthened and we encourage our legislators to review the horrors associated with this case,” Donnelly said. “I thank our partners at the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the local veterinarians who assisted our investigation.”