Niño, had open wounds and was left outside veterinary clinic in October 2015; Public helped catch defendant after surveillance video was released to media
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Hempstead woman was sentenced to six months in jail today and a 10-year ban prohibiting her from owning any animals - for abandoning an injured dog outside of a veterinary clinic in 2015.
Tamara Copeland, 58, pleaded guilty on May 22 before District Court Judge Norman St. George to one count of Abandonment of Animals – AML 355 (an unclassified misdemeanor).
“This defendant abandoned a helpless dog suffering from horrible injuries that appeared to be the result of long-term abuse and neglect,” DA Singas said. “The people of Nassau County have big hearts and tips from the public helped us solve this tragic case. Thanks to skilled veterinarians and our Animal Crimes investigators and prosecutors, Niño recovered from his injuries to live out his final days in a loving home.”
DA Singas said that at approximately 9 a.m. on October 13, 2015, an employee of a veterinary clinic at 28 Main Street in Hempstead found a poodle-mix dog with open wounds and bloody bandages laying on a small bed right outside the entryway. The clinic contacted Town of Hempstead Animal Control, which responded and took the dog to a shelter where it was examined and treated. The case was immediately referred to the NCDA by animal control.
The NCDA secured multiple surveillance videos from that morning, including one video of two women walking on Main Street, one pushing a cart. The woman pushing the cart, Copeland, briefly leaves the frame and returns without the cart and holding what appears to be a wrapped package. The defendant drops the package in front of the animal clinic and then hastily walks away and out of the screen.
The video was distributed to the media and Copeland was identified through a tip and arrested by NCDA investigators less than 24 hours after the video’s release.
The dog had an implanted identification chip and was owned by a Uniondale woman and went missing from her yard more than three years ago. The owner did not match the description of the people depicted in the video and was never the subject of an investigation. The dog was given to the owner as a birthday present by her daughter in April 2000.
When found, Niño was suffering from broken ribs, bacterial infections, skin lesions, trauma and other injuries of unknown origin. After he received stabilizing medical care at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, Niño was transferred to the Long Island Veterinary Specialists in Plainview.
Niño recuperated and has since passed away.
Assistant District Attorney Carissa Danesi of DA Singas’ Animal Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case. Copeland is represented by the Legal Aid Society.