Mineola Husband and Wife Arrested for Animal Cruelty

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Ellie Knoller and Jessica Kuncman have been charged and face prison time for animal cruelty. (Photos courtesy of Nassau County District Attorney)

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced that a Mineola man was arraigned on grand jury indictment charges for allegedly killing two puppies just days after obtaining them and nearly killing a third animal. His wife has also been charged for permitting the unjustifiable suffering of the third puppy.

Ellie Knoller, 29, was arraigned before Judge Meryl Berkowitz and charged with three counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals (an E felony) and three counts of Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (an A misdemeanor). The defendant was released on his own recognizance, surrendered his passport and is due back in court June 3. If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces a maximum of two years in prison.

Jessica Kuncman, also known as Jessica Knoller, 30, was arraigned before Judge Meryl Berkowitz and charged with Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (an A misdemeanor). The defendant was released on her own recognizance, surrendered her passport and is due back in court June 3. If convicted of the top count, the defendant faces a maximum of one year in prison.

District Attorney Madeline Singas announces the arrest.

“Three healthy puppies suffered horrific injuries while they were under the care and control of these defendants,” DA Singas said. “Sadly, these animals can’t testify about the unconscionable suffering that they endured, but their blunt force and neck trauma injuries tell a gruesome story, and we are committed to seeking justice on their behalf. This is an ongoing investigation and we encourage anyone who may information about these dogs or their injuries to contact our Animal Crimes Unit at 516-571-7755.”

“Practically beaten to death, it’s difficult to imagine someone could harm such a sweet little dog, but that is what happened to Bella, beaten and choked, leaving her with several broken ribs, her forearm broken in two places and a pulmonary contusion. It’s a miracle this little girl is alive and recovering, two other dogs were not so lucky. After 35 years of animal crimes investigations, I have never seen a case like this. To injure the internal organs of a dog takes a large amount of blunt force and great trauma, one could only imagine the suffering these dogs endured. It is said that a society is judged by the way we treat animals, thankfully in Nassau County, the Nassau County District Attorney and Nassau County SPCA make sure they are treated properly. Animal crimes are not tolerated.”

DA Singas on that February 8 the defendants allegedly adopted a 10-12-week-old male Shepherd mix named Tucker from a local pet adoption agency, and by Feb. 17, the puppy was dead of a kidney rupture. It is alleged that Ellie Knoller inflicted blunt force trauma to the dog that resulted in the kidney rupture, causing the dog to suffer from extensive internal bleeding and die.

Additionally, on or about Feb. 18, the defendants allegedly purchased a 10-12-week-old male brown Goldendoodle puppy named Cooper, from a breeder in Pennsylvania. On Feb. 20, Defendant Ellie Knoller allegedly brought the puppy into Garden City Veterinary Care in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

By the time a veterinarian examined Cooper he had already died. The dog’s cause of death was determined to be from a lacerated liver. It is alleged that Ellie Knoller inflicted blunt force trauma on the dog that resulted in the lacerated liver, causing extensive and ultimately fatal internal bleeding.

The above-listed incidents came to light following an investigation into the defendants after they allegedly brought a lethargic and lifeless 11-week-old female brown Goldendoodle puppy named Bella to Veterinary Referral & Emergency Center of Westbury on February 27.

Upon examination, the veterinarians found Bella to have multiple fractured ribs, bruising on her lungs, bleeding behind her eyes and a broken leg. Bella required surgery, including the insertion of a metal rod, to repair her leg and has a steel plate to hold the bones in place while they heal. It is alleged that Ellie Knoller inflicted blunt force trauma on the dog that resulted in her injuries. She continues to recover from her other injuries and has since been seized pursuant to a search warrant and is now in the care of the Nassau County SPCA.

District Attorney Madeline Singas gives Bella a hug.

The defendants allegedly received Bella after complaining to the breeder that Cooper had unexpectedly died, and she is from the same litter as Cooper.

The indictment alleges defendant Jessica Kuncman did not take Bella for veterinary care for approximately 15 hours after the puppy appeared to be in pain, causing unjustifiable suffering.

Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hernan of DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit is prosecuting this case. Defendant Ellie Knoller is represented by Greg Madey, Esq. and Defendant Jessica Knoller is represented by Jeff Groder, Esq.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.

Due to the cost of Bella’s medical care, the NCSPCA is seeking assistance from the public. Visit luckytobealive.ncspca.us to contribute.

—Courtesy of Nassau County District Attorney

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