Schenectady County

Man gets 2 years, judge’s advice in dog abuse case

The man who admitted in March to killing two dogs and maiming a third needs to seek help for anger i

The man who admitted in March to killing two dogs and maiming a third needs to seek help for anger issues, a judge told him Wednesday.

Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago Wednesday sentenced Thomas Hendricks to the maximum allowed for aggravated animal cruelty, two years in the local jail.

In doing so, Drago told Hendricks that it appeared that he had no remorse for his crimes. That, and evident “serious anger issues,” concerned the judge, she said.

“You are not only a danger to the four-legged animals, you are a danger to other individuals in the community,” Drago told Hendricks. “If you need assistance with your anger, you need to seek that help, period.”

Hendricks himself remained mostly quiet in court, except when Drago allowed him to respond to her assertions.

Hendricks contended he had tried, but he said he didn’t know where to go. He did not detail his alleged efforts.

“Maybe I do have problems, I don’t know,” Hendricks said. “Why can’t you prescribe help for me?”

Drago listed several programs he could look into when he got out.

Hendricks, 28, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, felonies.

Hendricks admitted to drowning and choking one dog to death, beating another to death with a pool cue and scalding another severely.

The attacks on the dogs were all the result of Hendricks’ actions in response to arguments with his wife, police said. The actions were also aimed at instilling fear in his wife, officials said.

Hendricks admitted to the acts at his plea in March but later denied harming any animals in a routine pre-sentence interview with the Probation Department.

The denials prompted Drago to require Hendricks to reaffirm the March plea and say the statements to the Probation Department were untrue for the sentencing to go forward.

Drago also admonished Hendricks at one point after Hendricks turned to the gallery. The judge told him to face forward. Hendricks was represented in court by attorney Les Lewis.

Hendricks, whose back was otherwise to the gallery, also appeared to be smiling during much of the proceedings, the prosecutor said later.

The surviving dog, Carmella, an 8-month-old toy poodle, has since been adopted out and renamed Angel.

Prosecutor Jessica Lorusso said in court that Angel is doing well but retains a fear of water and a fear of men.

Lorusso also noted the pre-sentence investigation showing “his absolute lack of remorse, blame-shifting and lack of empathy.”

The sentence was the maximum allowed under the animal cruelty statute, Lorusso said later. Sentences for each of the three counts are to run concurrent.

Had Hendricks been convicted of the three counts at trial, the sentences still could not have been consecutive, Lorusso said, citing the statute. The statute also requires that the two years be spent in a local jail, not state prison.

The leverage to get the plea deal lay in contempt charges that could have been filed related to alleged violations of an order of protection against his wife, Lorusso said.

The sentencing was attended by several animal activists, including Animal Protective Foundation spokeswoman Marguerite Pearson.

Pearson commended Drago later for seeing that Hendricks has real issues with anger.

“I’m really glad that she recognized that he’s a danger to society and that it wasn’t just an isolated case,” Pearson said.

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