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A Monmouth Couple Charged with Animal Cruelty in Death of Four Dogs

Freehold Township

FREEHOLD – A couple is facing charges of animal cruelty after four German Shepard puppies in their care died due to neglect, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Mr. Daniel McDonald, 25, and Ms. Tricia Jaccoma, 24, are charged with four counts of third-degree animal cruelty with respect to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies found on a property in Howell where they were temporarily residing.

According to police, the remains of two German Shepherd puppies were found in a fire pit on the property in Howell on Monday, May 18. The Howell Township Police Department and Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Law Enforcement Division, reported that they conducted an investigation, which led to the discovery of the remains of two more deceased puppies that had been buried on the property.

The joint investigation revealed the puppies were stolen from a farm in Somerset County on or about May 12, when the puppies were only approximately three weeks old. Investigators learned McDonald and Jaccoma were staying at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing and were in possession of the puppies while residing in a camper on the property in Howell.

Investigators also learned the puppies were ill, in distress, and were struggling to breathe prior to their deaths, and that the pair did not get the puppies medical attention because of the costs associated with the care.

The investigation further revealed McDonald disposed of the bodies of the puppies by burying two of them and tossing the other two into the fire pit on or about May 16. A necropsy performed on the two buried puppies revealed that they had suffered from parasites and also were severely emaciated and malnourished with “no indications of recent nutritional ingestion.”

In addition to the animal cruelty charges, both McDonald and Jaccoma were additionally charged with multiple counts of third-degree Receiving Stolen Property, for being in possession of the stolen puppies in Monmouth County.

McDonald was further charged with four counts of Hindering Apprehension of Oneself and Disorderly Persons Offenses, for disposing of the puppies bodies.