Syria Genocide War Crimes

Thursday, January 7, 2010

'Concentration camp' for pets

Mom got kids to help in abuse, son says
Last Updated: 13th November 2009, 5:08am

A mother of seven is accused of running a house of horrors for pets at her suburban Long Island home, forcing her children to help torture them and burying at least 20 dogs in her backyard -- animals that neighbours now fear were beloved pets that mysteriously disappeared over the years.

Sharon McDonough pleaded not guilty last week to six counts of misdemeanour animal cruelty on suspicion of abusing five dogs and a cat found crammed into cages, covered in feces and urine, their coats matted with filth. A judge has taken away custody of the 43-year-old woman's six young daughters.

McDonough's neighbours began fearing their missing pets met a worse fate than the abused animals after her son led officials to a backyard filled with the shallow graves of 20 dogs.

Douglas McDonough, 21, who turned his mother in on Nov. 5, called the home "a concentration camp for the animals" after the arrest.

"She would have the oldest kids hold down the dog while we duct-taped his mouth and she would hit him," he told reporters, adding that he and his sisters were all forced to take part in the abuse.

On Tuesday, a judge removed the six girls -- ages 18 months to 13 years -- from the custody of McDonough, whose husband, Darren, was killed in a car accident last year.

Dozens of people have called the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals since the case broke, fearing their missing pets had been victimized, Suffolk County SPCA Chief Roy Gross said.

"My daughter is still crying every day over her lost chihuahua," said neighbour Sharyn Padula of the family's dog Bally, who disappeared just over a year ago. Two cats, Annabelle and Sylvester, also went missing.

"I'd rather think that they're wandering around still," Padula said. "I don't even want to imagine."