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October 26, 2011

Three People Charged With Neglecting Two Dogs in Separate Incidents

  Defendants faces up to year in jail in both cases

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that three people have been charged with neglecting two dogs in separate incidents, including one case where the dog was so neglected that the metal dog collar it was given as a puppy became embedded in its neck as it grew.  

Joseph Cione
Tara Cione
Joseph Flexer

Joseph Cione, 41, and Tara Cione, 33, of Massapequa, were arrested this morning by DA Investigators and charged with misdemeanor Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals. They each face up to one year in jail if convicted and are scheduled to be arraigned later today in First District Court, Hempstead.  

Rice said that on about October 15, 2010, the Ciones obtained a three-month-old Neapolitan Mastiff named Athena from a California breeder but decided to give the dog away less than a year later. On June 15, 2011, in preparation to give the dog away, the Ciones contacted a local veterinarian to remedy a wound on Athena’s neck. When the veterinarian responded to the Ciones’ home, she saw Athena in the backyard with several flies buzzing around her and suffering from a deep and infected neck wound.  

During a surgical exploration of the neck wound, the veterinarian discovered a metal collar was embedded in Athena’s neck so deeply that it had adhered to the dog’s trachea, and the dog’s neck had healed over the collar. After a successful surgery to remove the collar, which involved removing a significant amount of flesh, Athena was surrendered to NeoRescue, a non-profit dedicated to protecting Neapolitan Mastiffs.  

In a separate incident, Jamie Flexer, 38, of Bellmore, was arrested this morning by DA Investigators and charged with one misdemeanor count of Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted and is scheduled to be arraigned later today in First District Court, Hempstead.  

Rice said that on June 15, 2011, Flexer was evicted from the Bellmore home he had previously shared with his ex-wife, Paula Flexer, and had lived alone in for three years. As part of their divorce, Flexer took custody of Graham, a 10-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever.

Following the eviction, Paul Flexer returned to the residence and saw that her ex-husband had left Graham behind with no food or water. The dog was completely dehydrated and severely underweight. Paula Flexer immediately contacted the DA’s Animal Crimes Unit and took the dog to the Mineola Animal Hospital. Upon veterinary examination, the vet determined that the dog’s emaciated condition was due to “chronic starvation.” The dog is now in good health and is in the custody of Second Chance Labrador Retriever Rescue.  

“The cruelty and neglect these innocent animals suffered at the hands of their owners is unconscionable,” Rice said. “These defendants watched their dogs suffer and waste away, and they did nothing. Now they will face the consequences.”  

Assistant District Attorney Michelle Walsh of the Animal Crimes Unit is prosecuting the cases for the DA’s Office.  

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.