Adell Ziegler, the teen who burned the Jack Russell terrier named Phoenix in Buffalo, NY last fall, has been handed the maximum sentence in New York state for animal cruelty. He will spend the next two years in prison (we know, not nearly long enough), and is banned from having a pet for the next seven years (again, we know – not long enough).
“I don’t think this guy should have a pet rock,” said Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita. “He’s an off-the-charts animal abuser. He’s a sociopath.”
The prosecution says that during his time in jail, Ziegler has been overheard in phone calls bragging about what he did, saying the case has made him famous, and he wears a badge of honor.
Ziegler argues that he does not think him being known for this is a good thing. He told the judge that people are only going to know him for being the guy who set a puppy on fire. He apologized at his sentencing on Tuesday, saying he thought it was a joke at the time.
“I could’ve stopped it that day, and should’ve, but I never knew it would go that far,” Ziegler said. (How can a person even claim they do not realize how far they are taking a “joke” when they douse an animal in lighter fluid and set it on fire??)
His defense attorneys masqueraded him as a child of a broken home, having been in and out of foster care, never knowing stability.
“While there were hundreds of people from across the country who wanted to adopt Phoenix and were vying for his adoption, there were zero people to adopt my client when he was a fatherless, motherless child from a broken home plagued with drug abuse and alcohol abuse,” said Ziegler’s attorney, Ann Nichols.
Despite his troubled childhood, he has not and will not gain sympathy from many. Everyone has hardships in life, but they don’t think, “hey, my life has been pretty crappy, so why don’t I set an animal on fire for fun?”
“Mr. Ziegler…I should be kind here…is a very troubled person. To douse a dog with lighter fluid and set it on fire for their jollies, there’s a serious computer chip missing there,” Sedita responded.
Ziegler’s nephew, Diondre Brown, admitted to participating in the heinous crime by acting as a lookout. He was sentenced to six months. Ziegler is currently serving one year in prison for violating probation, and will begin his additional sentence in October.
Phoenix is happy and healthy in his forever home. He was adopted by foster mom Judi, and spends his days with his best friend, Ruckus. He recently visited the state capital to celebrate New York State Animal Advocacy Day. February 9th was declared Phoenix Day by Mayor Byron Brown. The spirited pup has been an ambassador for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter (as well as the city itself), and is on his way to becoming a therapy dog.
To encourage Governor Andrew Cuomo to enforce stricter laws with harsher punishments for abusers, please visit: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/686/536/489/phoenix-law/.