DA: Mineola man fatally beat 2 puppies, nearly killed another within weeks

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MINEOLA -

A Mineola couple is accused of animal cruelty after prosecutors say the husband fatally beat two puppies and nearly killed a third.

Prosecutors say 29-year-old Ellie Knoller hurt the three pups within a three-week period. His wife, 30-year-old Jessica Kuncman, is accused of standing by and doing nothing while the third dog, named Bella, suffered for 15 hours with her injuries.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas says Bella injuries include multiple rib fractures, lung bruise, bleeding behind the eyes and a broken leg.

On Wednesday, Singas and Nassau County SPCA detectives showed Bella's recovery progress at a news conference after the couple was arraigned on animal cruelty charges. Both were released without having to post bail.

Gary Rodgers, of the Nassau SPCA, says he's never seen a case of serial animal abuse like this.

Authorities first became aware of the alleged abuse in February, when the couple brought Bella to the Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center of Westbury. Attorneys for the couple say taking Bella to the vet shows they cared for the puppies and didn't intentionally hurt them.

The first dog that died was named Cooper and came from the North Shore Animal League. The second was Tucker, Bella's brother, who he came from a breeder in Pennsylvania.

The charges fall under New York's agricultural and market laws. If convicted, Knoller faces a maximum of two years in prison; his wife, no more than a year.

Bella is still the property of the couple, although she is being kept in a foster home until the next court date on June 3.

Anyone looking to make donations for Bella's care can do so through the Nassau SPCA website.

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