Woman Admits Drowning Puppy over Concerns of Expensive Veterinary Care

Tonya Fea
West Milford Police Department

A woman in New Jersey admitted drowning a puppy over worries her adopted dog required expensive veterinary care, prosecutors announced.

According to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, “Tonya Fea, 49, of Jefferson Township, pleaded guilty Thursday to animal cruelty in the April 2019 drowning of a female golden retriever that was found submerged in a cage weighted down by a glass vase at a pond in West Milford,” the New York Post reported Friday.

The prosecutor’s office continued in a press release on Thursday:

Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the State has recommended that Ms. Fea be placed on probation for a period of 5 years with the condition that she serve 180 days in the Passaic County Jail. Under the terms of the plea, Ms. Fea will also be required to continue counseling, perform 100 days of community service, and refrain from owning dogs in the future. An October 5, 2021 sentence date has been set before the Honorable Marilyn C. Clark, J.S.C. The State is represented by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Fetterman. Tonya Fea is represented by Richard Baldi, Esq.

Fea reportedly stated at the Thursday hearing she “panicked” while making the decision to “dispose of” the ill puppy.

“You knew the ground was frozen so burying it was very difficult, so you decided to submerge [the dog] in the pond?” her attorney asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

ARREST MADE IN CONNECTION WITH APRIL 30, 2019 ANIMAL CRUELTY INVESTIGATION WEST MILFORD, NEW JERSEY: …

Posted by West Milford Police Department on Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The animal was found “dead and ice cold” in April 2019, a Facebook post from Last Resort Animal Rescue said.

WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTO:

She was apprehended. Thank you everyone!REWARD is $12,000!!! and will be given to the parties that the police…

Posted by The Last Resort Rescue on Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On Thursday, the group shared the prosecutor’s announcement regarding Fea:

Update on Jenny's murderer!https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/northpassaic/news/nj-woman-who-drowned-weeks-old-puppy-gets-180-days-in-jail-probation-community-service/814426/#justiceforjenny

Posted by The Last Resort Rescue on Thursday, August 12, 2021

Fea reportedly wept throughout the virtual hearing and said the dog was breathing “but just laying there” when she checked on it the morning of the incident.

Several hours later, Fea claimed, she reportedly did not look to see if the dog had a pulse or was breathing before going to the pond.

“I panicked,” Fea explained to a judge when asked why she submerged the dog in water.

“What was the reason for the panic?” Judge Marilyn Clark further questioned.

Fea hesitated but her attorney claimed she scheduled a vet appointment for the puppy after adopting it a few days before. However, she decided not to go citing concerns of high vet bills, attorney Richard Baldi noted.

Fea previously told police the dog was deceased when she placed it in the pond, court documents said, and a necropsy reportedly found the puppy died of asphyxiation from the water.

According to the Humane Society of the United States website, animal cruelty “encompasses a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing. Most cruelty investigated by humane officers is unintentional neglect that can be resolved through education.”

“Intentional cruelty can run the gamut from knowingly depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialization or veterinary care to maliciously torturing, maiming, mutilating or killing an animal,” the site read.

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