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19-Year-Old Given Maximum Sentence for Burning a Puppy, Leaving It for Dead

A 19-year-old was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of felony animal cruelty after he lit a Jack Russell terrier on fire and left it for dead.

In October, Adell Ziegler hung the puppy, named Phoenix, doused him in lighter fluid, and set him on fire.

Ziegler pleaded guilty in April to aggravated animal cruelty. Tuesday the Supreme Court in Buffalo, N.Y., sentenced Ziegler to the maximum sentence for his crime.

A judge ruled Ziegler will not be able to own a pet or live with someone who owns a pet for seven years.

The prosecution said in court that Zeigler bragged about committing the crime during prison phone calls, WIVB reported, claiming it “made him famous.”

Zeigler said those accusations are false and apologized. He claimed he never meant for this to happen, and he thought it was just a joke at the time.

Phoenix was found burning on Herman Street, and police were led to Zeigler only after someone called in a key tip.

"This is a terrible act of cruelty. One that should never happen at any time," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told WIVB.

Prosecutors said Ziegler was the ring leader in the crime. Zeigler’s nephew, 17-year-old Diondre Brown, was also arrested and charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty. He served six months in May for his participation but was later released on time served.

Zeigler, who was remanded without bail after his arrest, had a prior felony and was on parole for robbery.

"Both made admissions to what they did. They said they hung the dog about three feet in the air. They doused him with lighter fluid and we're not sure which one set him on fire," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

New York State law says aggravated cruelty of an animal occurs when a person intentionally kills or causes serious injury to a companion animal with no justifiable purpose.

Ziegler's attorney Ann Nichols said, "While there were hundreds of people from across the country who wanted to adopt Phoenix and were vying for his adoption, there were zero people to adopt my client when he was a fatherless, motherless child from a broken home plagued with drug abuse and alcohol abuse."

The annual cost of a small dog in its first year of life is approximately $1,300, according to the ASPCA. The average cost of raising a child in New York State will cost $10,740 the baby’s first year, according to

Sources: WIVB, WestportNews


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