In all his 19 years on the job, Princeton’s Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson, has never seen a dog so cruelly treated that it died of its injuries.
The complaints that Mr. Johnson usually receives, between 15 and 20 from the public each year, are usually the result of a dog being left inside an owner’s vehicle in the heat of summer, being left outside without shelter, or not being properly fed by its owners.
And while these instances of neglect have the potential for serious harm, they are some distance from the 13 charges that Mr. Johnson has brought against Birch Avenue resident Michael G. Rosenberg.
Mr. Rosenberg has been indicted by a Mercer County grand jury for allegedly causing the death of a three-year-old female German Shepherd-mix in his care. Last month, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. announced that the 31-year-old Princeton resident had been indicted for one count of third-degree animal cruelty, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine.
The charges result from an incident last August when Lawrence resident Tracy Stanton, an attorney working in Manhattan, left her dog with Mr. Rosenberg, who had apparently advertised himself as a dog trainer, operating out of his home. He had been recommended by a friend of Ms. Stanton’s.
Two days after Ms. Stanton left her dog Shyanne with Mr. Rosenberg, she received a call from him suggesting the dog was in need of veterinary attention. He later called again to suggest she come and pick up her dog immediately. Shortly thereafter, the dog was found unresponsive but still breathing on the front porch of Mr. Rosenberg’s residence. Shyanne died before arriving at the emergency vet hospital. Results of a necropsy showed that the dog had four broken ribs and a punctured lung.
According to the complaints signed by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Rosenberg hit Shyanne with a crop, slammed her to the ground, jabbed his fingers into her ribs, and failed to seek medical attention for her injuries.
In addition, Mr. Johnson has brought five charges against the Birch Avenue resident that relate to the treatment by Mr. Rosenberg of his own two dogs, which have since been removed from Princeton. According to Mr. Johnson, the dogs were taken to Massachussetts by Mr. Rosenberg’s former girlfriend.
Mr. Rosenberg is listed as a Megan’s Law Tier 2 (moderate risk) sex offender for having consensual sex with an underage female acquaintance. He was convicted, November 9, 2011.
The five charges brought by Mr. Johnson, are categorized as disorderly person and fourth degree crimes. Each could result in jail time of between one and 60 days and/or fines of between $250 and $1,000.
Besides responding to complaints from the public that may alert him to animal abuse, Mr. Johnson investigates stray dogs and cats, animal bites, wildlife problems, and the removal of dead deer. He also coordinates rabies immunizations for dogs and cats twice each year.
Mr. Johnson’s advice to dog owners looking for help in training their animals is to always ask for and check references from anyone who calls themselves an animal trainer or handler. “At the present time, it is not against the law to operate as a dog trainer out of your home and anyone can call themselves a dog trainer,” said Mr. Johnson. “Pet owners should be sure to check out references that reputable animal handlers and trainers are happy to supply.”
According to a letter received by Mr. Johnson from the prosecutor’s office, Mr. Rosenberg’s court appearance is scheduled for March 8.