Cops busted a Long Island man for beating his dog so brutally with a shovel the pooch had to be euthanized, officials said Saturday.
Michael Gallagher, 56, who works as a plumber for New York City schools and the Metropolitan Opera House, is accused of trying to strangle Shepherd mix Bella with a zip tie before throwing her into a garbage bag and slamming her with the shovel.
“We're still in total shock,” said Kerry Gallagher, 26, the daughter of the suspect, who lives with him in Levittown. “We don't even know what to do. We don't want him coming back.”
The family adopted Bella as a puppy 11 years ago from the North Shore Animal League.
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A neighbor spotted Michael Gallagher attacking Bella and confronted him about 2:45 p.m. Friday, cops said. Gallagher ran off and the neighbor opened the garbage bag and cut the zip tie off Bella, who had a severe gash on her head.
Kerry Gallagher’s ex-boyfriend, who lives nearby, witnessed the aftermath of the attack.
“He saw my mom crying on the floor,” she said. “He saw the bag and saw it was moving. He opened it and saw she had a skull fracture.”
Bella was taken to Levittown Animal Hospital, where she was euthanized because she could not be saved, officials said.
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Cops caught up with Gallagher at a nearby 7-Eleven store about 10:30 p.m. Friday and arrested him for aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing or injuring animals.
Kerry Gallagher said her father had quit drinking six months ago after decades of alcohol abuse.
“He was outpatient and he was doing really well,” she said. “He would come home and talk. He was happy I was talking to him again. I'm 26 — that's the first time I remember him being sober.”
But she suspects her dad started drinking again after another of the family’s dogs, Austin, died of liver cancer on Dec. 5.
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Her dad doted on both dogs, she said, allowing them to sleep in his bedroom and feeding them cookies.
“I think he either just blacked out or something snapped in his head,” she said of the attack. “He’s never been violent with the dogs ever before. He loves animals.”
Kerry Gallagher was able to talk to her dad as he was being interviewed by detectives.
“He told me that he didn't do it,” she said. “He has no recollection of doing it. I was showing him pictures of my dog on the vet table. He was saying ‘What is that, who is that. Is that Bella?’”
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Gallagher draws a $71,212 salary from the city Department of Education, according to seethroughny.net.Send a Letter to the Editor