STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. –- A Staten Island justice on Tuesday convicted Alsu Ivanchenko of animal-cruelty charges for badly injuring her tiny 3-month-old puppy last year and tossing the animal away in a bag by the railroad tracks in her community.
In a case that galvanized animal-rights activists, state Supreme Court Justice William E. Garnett found the Bay Terrace resident guilty of a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts: Animal abandonment, and overdriving, torturing and injuring animals.
Ivanchenko, 35, faces up to two years in prison when sentenced on Oct. 27.
The defendant, who did not testify, had opted for a bench trial before Garnett as opposed to taking her chances with a jury. The trial lasted five days. Prosecutors called 12 witnesses and put nearly 140 exhibits, mainly photos, into evidence.
In May, Ivanchenko rejected a plea deal in which she would have pleaded guilty to the felony charge in exchange for a sentence of six months in jail, five years’ probation and at least $20,000 restitution to the ASPCA for treating the severely injured pup.
Prosecutors said Ivanchenko beat the dog she had named Snowflake, and drove to South Railroad Avenue on the evening of Sept. 12, 2014. She then threw the bag out her car window near the train tracks at Hopkins Avenue.
Ivanchenko left the less-than-2-pound pup to die because she couldn’t afford its medical care, said Assistant District Attorneys Jane Grinberg and Adam Silberlight, who are prosecuting the case.
Good Samaritans found the dog in a black plastic bag and rushed her to the hospital.
The severely injured pup was found with two skull fractures, head trauma and bruising, and crusted and bloodied eyes, along with a broken leg, prosecution witnesses have testified.
Dr. Lisa Sether, a veterinarian at Animal Health Veterinary Group in Grant City, testified she diagnosed Snowflake with a broken leg, lethargy and abdomen tenderness during an exam on the afternoon of Sept. 12.
Ivanchenko declined to have the dog treated, saying it cost too much, and left the office with the pooch, said the vet.
Dr. Robert Reisman, a veterinarian with ASPCA, who first saw the pup on Sept. 18 or 19, said the skull fractures, head trauma, bruising and eye issues resulted from blunt-force trauma the animal suffered sometime after Sether’s exam on Sept. 12 and the time when Good Samaritans found her later that evening.
She was renamed “Charlotte.”
While her injuries were initially considered life-threatening, the pooch managed to mainly recover from them.
Despite lingering health issues, the little dog was later adopted and renamed “Pip” by her new owner, said the ASPCA.
In his closing argument Monday, defense attorney Matthew Myers said there was no evidence his client had hurt the dog, and she had deposited the puppy by the side of the road, intending for someone to find it.
Myers contended prosecutors had not proven key elements of the felony charge; namely that Ivanchenko intended to cause “extreme physical pain” and had done so in “an especially depraved and sadistic manner.”
“The act of leaving the dog by the side of the road can’t be confused with sadistic intent,” he said.
Myers maintained there was no proof of how the dog was hurt, when it was hurt or who had injured the animal.
The lawyer said his client never intended to hurt the pup and had declined to have the dog euthanized by the vet.