Woman who tortured and killed dozens of family pets in front of her seven children is jailed
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:10 PM on 31st March 2011
Sharon McDonough, 44, tortured and killed dozens of family pets in front of her children before burying the animal carcasses in her back garden
- Woman buried 42 dead dogs in her back garden
- One cat was hanged on child's bunkbed
- Children - all now in care - made to use bucket as a toilet and were banned from showering
- Judge disappointed he could not give heftier sentence than two-year maximum
A woman who abused her seven children and tortured and killed dozens of family pets, sometimes in the presence of the children, was given the maximum two-year jail term yesterday.
Sharon McDonough, 44, pleaded guilty last month to animal abuse and child endangerment charges after authorities said she created what her son called 'a concentration camp for the animals' in her New York home, burying animal carcasses in her back garden.
It was that adult son, Douglas McDonough, who turned in his mother to authorities in 2009.
Neither he nor his six younger sisters attended the sentencing in Suffolk County Court, but Assistant District Attorney John Cortes read a pre-sentencing letter that Douglas McDonough sent to the judge. The girls, all younger than 13 when their mother was arrested, are now in foster care.
'As one who has witnessed his "mother" choke the life out of a living animal and physically and emotionally abuse and destroy her own children, I know what she is capable of doing,' said McDonough's letter, a copy of which prosecutors provided to reporters after the proceeding. 'I fear for my well-being, my sisters and my six-month-old child. She has already destroyed us to a certain point.'
Suffolk County Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs issued a permanent order of protection, requiring McDonough to stay away from her children when she is released.
Because McDonough was held on $100,000 bail in the county jail since her arrest in 2009, the sentence with time off for good behaviour means she should be released as soon as mid-April, prosecutors and her attorney said.
'The penal law is inadequate to adequately address the true magnitude of the actions here,' Hinrichs said before imposing sentence. He said he agreed with prosecutors who described McDonough's actions as 'sinister, barbaric and evil'.
Court-appointed attorney Christopher Brocato said McDonough understands she will no longer be welcome in her suburban Long Island neighbourhood, a proposition that is largely moot because her home is in foreclosure.
McDonough was sentenced to two years at New York's Suffolk County Court (pictured). Her adult son, Douglas McDonough, said his mother had created 'a concentration camp for the animals' and turned her in to authorities in 2009
Brocato insisted during the sentencing that McDonough still loves her children. 'I know that may seem, on the surface, hard to believe, but she does,' the attorney told the judge.
Brocato said afterwards that his client is 'overwhelmed with grief and guilt'. He said he spoke on her behalf because she was emotionally distraught.
The attorney also noted that McDonough had been in an abusive marriage and was suffering from depression. McDonough's husband was killed in a car accident in 2008.
Prosecutors said McDonough killed numerous kittens and dogs, stashing the dead cats in the trash, and burying 42 dead dogs in the backyard of her home. The dogs were buried because some had identifying microchips implanted in them, and McDonough feared being discovered if the carcasses were found in the trash, they said.
The children were not only abused but were also forced to witness the deaths of family pets. They lived amid the animals that were kept in wretched cages filled with urine and faeces. McDonough acknowledged once placing duct tape over the mouth of a cat and hanging it from the ladder of a daughter's bunk bed until it died.
Cortes also noted that the children were barred from using a bathroom in the home and were forced to defecate and urinate in buckets. She also said the children were not allowed to take showers and cleaned themselves with cloth wipes.
Read more: Woman who tortured and killed family pets in front of children sentenced to two years in jail | Mail Online