Roxanne Notaro Pleads Guilty, Avoids Jail Time in Hercules Abuse Case
The Oak Valley woman and her mother have been banned from keeping animals for a decade, and will have to pay for the bulldog's medical care.
An Oak Valley woman who had pleaded not guilty to abusing her American bulldog abruptly changed course in Deptford municipal court Wednesday, pleading guilty and avoiding prison.
But Roxanne Notaro, who faced six counts of animal abuse related to her mistreatment of her bulldog, Hercules, and a cat that had to be euthanized, didn’t get off the hook completely.
She will have to pay $2,900 for Hercules’ extensive medical care and faces a 10-year ban on having pets, as ordered by Deptford municipal court Judge William Golden.
Notaro avoided potentially 45 days in jail and $4,000 in fines by pleading guilty, but has to abide by a consent order governing the plea, which includes 200 hours of community service and open inspections by the state SPCA or local animal control to enforce the 10-year ban.
While the lack of jail time may disappoint some, New Jersey SPCA President Richard Yocum said the ban and mandate to pay the medical costs were more important.
“Yes, we would all love that to happen, but reality is that on first offense it rarely happens—and did not happen in this case,” Yocum wrote of the lack of jail time in a Facebook update on the case.
And if inspectors ever find Notaro violating any of the terms, Yocum vowed the SPCA will arrest her and enforce the harsher punishment.
“We will nail her in a heartbeat if she violates that order,” Yocum wrote.
Several online petitions, some garnering hundreds of signatures, had called for Notaro to get a jail sentence for the abuse, which state SPCA officials said involved Hercules being kept in “horrific conditions,” neglected and forgotten in a feces-encrusted basement cage.
Hercules’ abuse was discovered almost by accident—Deptford police were called to Notaro’s Vassar Road home, just a few hundred yards from the West Deptford Animal Hospital, on an unrelated matter back on April 3, SPCA officials said, and after finding the dog in the basement, got the state SPCA involved in the case.
The bulldog has since been in the care of the staff at Delaware Valley Animal Hospital in Mullica Hill, where he’s steadily gained weight and improved since being rescued.
“To see Hercules’ amazing progress is emotionally overwhelming, even for those of us used to this process,” Yocum wrote in an update on the dog’s condition.
Notaro’s mother, Alice Sheridan, also pleaded guilty to a single count of animal cruelty Wednesday, receiving the same 10-year ban on having animals, as well as a $500 fine.