Mona Kanciper, the President and founder of the New York Horse Rescue, in 2009, injected a tranquilizer into a dog named Cooper. She did this in front of two riding students. One of the students, Michelle Struder, was 10 years of age and told her mother about the incident.
Treatment of Dogs
Based on allegations of Kanciper’s treatment of three dogs on her farm, she was indicted in July of 2010 on 3 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. She was also indicted on two counts of endangering the welfare of the child. A trial was held in Suffolk County, New York before Judge James Hudson. Kanciper was acquitted on all of the criminal charges except one. She was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of a child. She was sentenced, in January of 2012, to 3 months of probation plus additional special conditions including obtaining counseling and being prevented from owning a dog without permission of her probation officer. Kanciper appealed.
The Defendant Appeals
In her appeal, Kanciper showed the dog she allegedly euthanized was alive months after the alleged incident. Her attorneys also argued the “degree of culpability” for endangering the welfare of a child under Penal Law section 260.10 is that the defendant must be aware the conduct may “likely result in harm to the child.” Even if the child, Michelle, was witness to the injection, there was no elements of violence, sadism, brutality or any other issue raised that would endanger the welfare of the child. Her attorneys also argued on farms, injections are given to animals quite often. Their argument was there is no requirement children be shielded from the routine injections of animals on farms.
The Appeals Court found “there was no evidence demonstrating that the child was aware, at the time she witnessed the injection, that the defendant intended to euthanize that dog later that day or that she was upset by seeing the dog receive a tranquilizer injection.” The court went on to find that the child, Michelle, was “familiar” with the type of medical procedures requiring injections because her own dog had been injected to be treated for diabetes. The court in the end found “the evidence supporting the defendant’s conviction was not legally sufficient.”