Michael Staley (left) leaving Plattsburgh city court with his attorney Allan Cruikshank Jan. 23 after avoiding jail time in his puppy abandonment case. Staley was sentenced to time served for the two days he spent in jail after his arrest, and two concurrent three year terms of probation along with a fine and several conditions.
PLATTSBURGH — Michael Staley avoided jail time in his puppy abandonment case, over the impassioned pleas of Assistant District Attorney Jason Marx.
Staley was sentenced Thursday, Jan. 23 by City Court Judge Mark Rogers to time served, in the amount of the two days he had spent in jail after his initial arrest, and two consecutive three year terms of probation. Additional conditions included that Staley not be allowed to own any pets other than the two Rottweiler dogs and six Chinchillas that the family currently owns, and that the two Rottweilers be spay or neutered within the next 30 days. A fine of $500 was also imposed, which Staley can pay back at the rate of $50 per month, along with restitution of $2,782.65.
Prior to imposing the sentence, Marx addressed the court with his request that Staley be given the maximum sentence possible, which would include jail time, and to exclude the Staleys from owning any pets. Marx pointed out that Staley’s stated reason for abandoning the 24 puppies was the burden that caring for them was putting on his family, while at the same time the family willingly cared for eight of their own animals.
“He paints himself as a victim of circumstances,” said Marx. “This is not a person who takes responsibility for his actions…I am stating emphatically that this is no reason for them to have pets. They are not responsible pet owners.”
The pre-sentence investigation indicated that Staley should not be allowed to own animals. That section was amended by Rogers to indicate that the Staleys were allowed to keep the animals they currently own.
Prior to sentencing Staley, Rogers stated that it was “remarkable” that this case had generated the amount of interest that it has generated. He referenced the fact that other such cases, including more serious cases, did not generate jail time. He did however admonish Staley by saying: “Mr. Staley was not put in any position. He put himself in whatever situation he is currently in.”
On Nov. 21, Staley had accepted a plea agreement offered by District Attorney Andrew Wylie, which called for Staley to plead guilty to five misdemeanor counts of abandonment, with sentencing to be left to Rogers. The plea was in satisfaction of his arrest on 24 counts of abandonment of an animal which resulted from a late summer incident where Staley staged a burglary at his wife’s pet store — Northern Puppies —and took the 24 puppies in the store, and abandoned them in rural location throughout Clinton County.
After his arrest, Staley ultimately admitted to taking the 24 puppies and abandoning them, according to City Police. Five of those puppies were never located.