Saturday, December 24, 2016

New York: Michael Gallagher, 56, accused of trying to strangle his dog with zip ties and then putting a bag over its head and beating her in the head so badly with a shovel, the Shepherd mix had to be euthanized

NEW YORK -- Police on Long Island are investigating a horrific case of animal cruelty after they say a dog owner is accused of putting his pet in a bag and hitting it with a shovel.

That dog was later euthanized, and now, the Levittown man is under arrest and facing charges.

Nassau County police say neighbors saw 56-year-old Michael Gallagher trying to strangle his Shepherd mix dog with plastic zip ties around its neck on Friday.

"It was disgusting," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified. "My neighbor across the street called me, screaming that she heard the dog being killed."

The disturbing images still haunt the woman.

"All of sudden, he comes out with this long zip tie," she said. "And he's putting it around the dog's neck. The dog is in the bag."


She said it was just before 3 p.m. along Silversmith Lane when she noticed Gallagher put the zip tie around 11-year-old Bella's neck before putting her into the garbage bag, which he beat with the shovel as neighbors desperately called 911.

"I screamed at him to stop and said, 'What are you doing? What are you doing?'" she said. "And he said the dog was sick, and he wanted to put it out of its misery. And I called him a couple of things."

The neighbor opened the bag, cut the zip ties and saw a bad cut on the dog's head.

"We just can't figure out why somebody would do that," said Gary Rogers, of the Nassau County SPCA. "Violent animal cruelty like that is a precursor to other violent crime."

"It had to be euthanized from the horrible wounds that it received," Rogers said. "The vet determined that the wounds were going to be fatal, and to put the animal out of its suffering."

“We're still in total shock,” said Kerry Gallagher, 26, the daughter of the suspect, who lives with him in Levittown. “We don't even know what to do. We don't want him coming back.”

The family adopted Bella as a puppy 11 years ago from the North Shore Animal League.

Kerry Gallagher’s ex-boyfriend, who lives nearby, witnessed the aftermath of the attack.

“He saw my mom crying on the floor,” she said. “He saw the bag and saw it was moving. He opened it and saw she had a skull fracture.”

Bella was taken to a nearby animal hospital for treatment, but her injuries were too extensive. Members of the Cornell University Veterinary School will now perform a forensic evaluation.

Cops caught up with Gallagher at a nearby 7-Eleven store about 10:30 p.m. Friday and arrested him for aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing or injuring animals.

"This is a family member that you've been living with for 11.5 years in your house, and then you decide to put a wire tie around its neck, a zip tie, a bag over its head and hit it with a shovel?" Rogers said. "We can't figure out what's going on there."

Kerry Gallagher said her father had quit drinking six months ago after decades of alcohol abuse.

“He was outpatient and he was doing really well,” she said. “He would come home and talk. He was happy I was talking to him again. I'm 26 — that's the first time I remember him being sober.”

But she suspects her dad started drinking again after another of the family’s dogs, Austin, died of liver cancer on Dec. 5.

Her dad doted on both dogs, she said, allowing them to sleep in his bedroom and feeding them cookies.

“I think he either just blacked out or something snapped in his head,” she said of the attack. “He’s never been violent with the dogs ever before. He loves animals.”

Kerry Gallagher was able to talk to her dad as he was being interviewed by detectives.

“He told me that he didn't do it,” she said. “He has no recollection of doing it. I was showing him pictures of my dog on the vet table. He was saying ‘What is that, who is that. Is that Bella?’”

Gallagher draws a $71,212 salary from the city Department of Education, according to

(ABC7NY - Dec 23, 2016)