PLATTSBURGH — Marking the end of the Northern Puppies cases, Tammy Staley was sentenced Friday morning in Plattsburgh City Court to three years of probation and the payment of restitution and fines.
City Court Judge Mark Rogers also ordered Staley to pay $2,500 in fines — $500 for each of the five counts of animal cruelty she pleaded guilty to — and $1,310 in restitution.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” Staley told the Press-Republican Friday in a phone interview. “It’s been rough. Obviously, we only have one income coming in right now.”
Staley said she was in the hospital when the police and Ag and Markets investigators showed up for the unannounced inspection in July 2013 that brought the charges.
It was early in the morning, she said, and the employee in charge hadn’t yet had the chance to clean the store.
Staley said she later fired that worker.
During that July 2013 visit, Plattsburgh City Police and New York State Agriculture and Market Inspectors found one dead kitten and several other cats in poor health in a back room of the Plattsburgh Plaza store, police said previously.
After the animals were seized from the shop, other kittens died, succumbing to medical issues they incurred as a result of Staley’s criminal conduct, City Police said.
“What the press doesn’t say is the cats were vet-checked twice,” Staley said. “It’s not like we had them back there dying.”
Also during the inspection, authorities reported, they found other animals enclosed in cages too small for them, covered in their own feces and urine.
The shop owner said she did have to accept legal responsibility for what was found during the inspection since she was the business owner.
“Because it’s my business, I had to take a plea,” she said.
“When someone sells cigarettes to an underage kid, the employee might get fired, but the store gets in trouble for it. And that’s basically what happened to me.”
‘NO PROBLEMS BEFORE’
Staley added that her store had been inspected several times in the past three years, with inspectors arriving without notice.
“There had never been an issue with the animals,” she said.
About a month after Staley was arrested, her husband, Michael Staley, was charged with 24 counts of animal abandonment, a misdemeanor, after he faked a burglary at Northern Puppies took the 24 puppies there and dropped them in remote locations around Clinton County.
In response, locals turned out to search for the missing dogs and protested publicly, demanding the store be shut down.
Mr. Staley was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation and is required to pay $2,782.65 in restitution and a $500 fee.
‘POSITIVE PUBLIC INTEREST’
Since animal cruelty is a misdemeanor, the maximum incarceration period is the same as it would have been had Mrs. Staley pleaded guilty to the original 20-count charge, Clinton County Assistant District Attorney Jason Marx, who prosecuted the case, said Friday.
“She’ll be under probation supervision for the next three years, and if there are any violations, we’ll be back in court,” he said.
At Mr. Staley’s sentencing on Thursday, the judge pointed out that it was remarkable the case had generated so much attention in the community, taking into account that crimes of those with histories of breaking the law are not publicized nearly as widely.
“I think it’s always positive when the public gets involved in the process and takes an interest in important cases,” Marx said.
‘NEVER BREED ANIMALS’
One of the conditions for Mr. Staley is that his family is not allowed to take on any new pets as long as he is serving probation.
The judge also ordered that the two rottweilers the Staleys own be neutered or spayed no more than 30 days after the sentencing date.
Mrs. Staley, who was represented by attorney Frank Zappala, said she’s not opposed to that.
“We never breed our animals anyway.”
In October 2013, however, City Police investigated a report that a rottweiler was giving birth in Staley’s shop; they confirmed it was a family pet.
Mrs. Staley told the Press-Republican then that her dog did have puppies.
On Friday, she said she was not planning to open a new pet store.
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