Brick couple accused of animal abuse in Sammy case reaches plea agreement

morgans 4

Keith and Shauna Morgan reached a plea agreement on Monday. They were accused of abusing a Cocker Spaniel named Sammy.

By Ashley Peskoe/
on August 19, 2013 at 7:44 PM, updated August 19, 2013 at 9:23 PM

BRICK A township couple accused of abusing a Cocker Spaniel named Sammy pleaded guilty in a municipal court on Monday to some of the charges against them.

As part of the plea agreement, Keith Morgan, 56, admitted to one count of abuse of animal cruelty and filing a false report with law enforcement, while Shauna Ewing Morgan, 43, pleaded guilty two counts of animal cruelty.

“Finally justice was served … it couldn’t have been any better of an outcome,” Monmouth County SPCA Chief Victor “Buddy” Amato said outside the courthouse. “The dogs can now be permanently in their homes.”

Amato called the outcome a “win” and said they still faced up to six months of jail, regardless of the number of counts they were found guilty on, but ultimately their sentence would be up to the judge.

Sammy, a 15-year-old Cocker Spaniel, was brought to the Associated Humane Society in Tinton Falls in March, covered in urine and with his fur was so matted together that he could not stand. Keith Morgan claimed he found the dog on the side of the road in a garbage bag.

During the nearly 10-minute hearing, the Morgans stood next to their attorneys and answered the judge’s questions, with just yes or no responses. Approximately 70 people showed up in support of Sammy, wearing t-shirts with a portrait of the dog on the front.

As the plea agreement was explained in court, some Sammy supporters could be seen crying in the courtroom.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, some people held signs and expressed their feelings toward the outcome of the case.

Annamaria Commando, of Freehold, said she was happy they pleaded guilty, but thought it should have been on all the charges they were facing. She said she has been to each of the Morgan’s court appearances.

“As long as they’re guilty, I’m happy. I really think they should be punished,” Commando said. “I think they should suffer the way this little animal suffered at their hands.”

Martin Mondoker, of Edison, who is one of the administrators behind the “Sammy the Cocker Spaniel” Facebook page that has garnered more than 25,000 followers, said he was not happy with the plea agreement or that the sentencing was not done Monday. The judge ordered a pre-sentencing report before the Morgans are sentenced.

“I don’t like the plea … I think they had an ironclad case,” Mondoker said. “He should have sentenced them today, end this whole matter, and that would have been it.”

Michelle Rusnock, of West Nyack, N.Y., said she found out about the case on Facebook and came to support Sammy in hopes that it would put an end to other future animal abuse cases.

“If nothing with this case, this will continue on and on and on,” Rusnock said. “I think it’s a disappointment, I think it’s a disgrace, I don’t think there should be a plea in this case.”


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