A dog named Rocco

Update from NJ SPCA:

To All : Mayor of Clementon has responded to the Rocco case and promises to look into the case and if he feels Judge acted improperly will ask him to resign. The Mayor will be speaking with the Prosecutor and NJSPCA so a plan can be developed to protect the remaining two dogs. Thank you all for speaking up and thank you Mayor !! Capt


This is the first and last time I ever want to write a blog post like this. People who torture animals are criminals and deserve to be tried to the fullest extent of the law. I NEVER want to post a photo of a dead dog again. And I will keep on speaking up for dogs like Rocco. He deserved to LIVE, not die a torturous unnecessary death. People have to keep speaking UP for dogs like Rocco because dogs cannot speak for themselves.

Below is my letter, polite yet firm, about a dog named Rocco who was starved to death found dead in the back yard. His owners were given 10 days community service and a $250 fine each for willfully killing this dog in such a horrific manner. And they have other dogs and those dogs have NOT been confiscated nor have they been banned from having pets.  What is the point of having tough laws if Judges do NOT sentence criminals with a judgement to fit the crime???

This makes me ill. There is more info below… Please write to the Judge and Mayor and Council and the media and tell them how you feel about this. You can copy/paste any part of my letter if you wish to do so.  Please BE Rocco’s VOICE… He could NOT speak up for himself and the other animals cannot either. Thank you.

You can sign a petition, as well as write to the local news media in NJ…you can call too.

breakingnews@starledger.com, jbarna@sjnewsco.com


…the starvation was compounded by the parasite burden, intestinal worms and heartworms. The Prosecutor as well as the NJ SPCA had no intention of pleading this case out and in fact wanted this to go to trial. The trial was heard during the month of August 2011, in the Clementon Municipal Court where all parties testified.  Dr. Lingley explaining how Rocco died was most disturbing. Judge Larsen made his decision in September, 2011 in Berlin Borough Municipal Court. Ms. Tucker was charged with two Disorderly Persons for Depriving a Living Creature of Necessary Sustenance and Failing to Provide a Living Creature with proper food.  Brandon (Shroeder) Tucker was charged with two Disorderly Persons for Depriving a Living Creature of necessary Sustenance and Cause or Procure by any direct or indirect means any such acts to be done. The NJSPCA felt that these people would be held accountable for their horrible act of intentional neglect of this poor dog. The NJ State Statute allows for Jail time when found guilty for this crime. Judge Larsen stated this was a torturous way to die, it did not happen in a brief period of time, it was long term and there was no excuse why they did not take the dog to the vet or to the shelter or anyone that would have helped out.

So to recap the Tuckers WILLFULLY neglected this dog and allowed it to starve to death with parasites, in their own back yard, they DID NOT take the dog to the vet, and have other dogs in the home, and WERE GIVEN a tiny fine and community service plus are allowed to keep their other dogs (to abuse them too whenever they see fit to do so?).

poor Rocco… RIP sweet dog…

Judge Craig Larsen Clementon Court 101 Gibbsboro Road Clementon, NJ 08021 (856) 783-6464 Extensions #110 & #111 http://www.clementonborough.com/municipal_court Mayor: Mark E. Armbruster clementonnj@aol.com>; Members of Council: http://www.clementonborough.com/mayor__council ******************************
Dear Mayor Armbruster, Judge Larsen and Members of Council,

My heart went out to Patrick the starved dog in New Jersey back in March 2011. Millions of people around the world were moved to ACT and create the Patrick Movement with 60 Facebook pages with hundreds of thousands of people. A dedicated, committed group of animal advocates who continue to be concerned about Patrick and all of the Patricks in the world. Rocco is one such dog.

A dog named Rocco was found dead of willful neglect and cruelty in his own back yard. The Judge said starving a dog to death is torture. Yet his cruel pet owners were given a very lenient sentence.

The judgement given does not even begin to fit the crime!!!!

How in the world could a person abandon, neglect and not feed a dog to the point of starvation and death is just beyond me. Even in tough economic times, people have choices to make. And one can always choose to feed their pets and get them vet care IF they are a responsible pet parent. People do NOT have to abandon, neglect or starve their pets. There are always other options.

This is NOT some grand theory but practical application. I have been there and done it. For myself, given the choice of feeding myself or my dog Cici, she comes first.  I take my responsibility to care for her very seriously. If not me, then who? And there have been times over the last few years where I had to make that choice. If I can do that, so can others.

To be responsible begins with, are you able and/or WILLING to RESPOND? If you are dying and/or so sick and disabled, then you may not be able. Otherwise, it is a matter of WILLINGNESS. Am I WILLING to STEP UP or NOT? Tell the truth. Would you condone the abandonment or neglect of a child, to allow parents to starve them, or give them away because of tough times? If not, then how about making pet parents responsible for their pets. A living animal is NOT a toy, accessory nor is it something to throw away when times get hard. People are able but either willing or not willing to be responsible. These people were able and UNWILLING to be responsible to the point of criminality.

As far as I am concerned, there are NO EXCUSES… I have ZERO tolerance for people who abuse their animals (and children and others). Starving, neglecting and/or abandoning an animal is a WILLFUL act, a criminal act, that should be punished harshly to the fullest extent of the law. It is a heinous act of animal abuse and animal cruelty.

Some people say, oh, it’s just a dog or just a cat as if that explains everything, as if that means that they can do whatever they want to do. As if that means that they do not have to be responsible.

In Florida, while going to college, I was studying elementary education in hopes of becoming a teacher. At that time, I taught pre-school and babysat a lot to earn money. I often worked for an agency that got me babysitting assignments, much like a temp agency. I worked for them, they paid me. The parents paid them. One Sunday, when the agency was closed, I had an assignment to babysit for two toddlers. I went to the house, was told that the parents would be gone about four hours. Fine. They left. It was only afterwards, I discovered that in this house with fancy furniture, stereo equipment and televisions, the children had NO milk, no juice, no cereal, no bread, no crackers, no fruit, NOTHING in the refrigerator to feed them and NO diapers. The parents did not tell me nor leave me any money for these items. And how was I to get to the store with two toddlers? Plus, instead of four hours, the parents were gone 12 hours. I had to call upon my father who was an hour away to help me. I was furious and the agency as well as the parents got an earful. What kind of parents leave their children without food and diapers yet had plenty of money for luxury items. Seriously screwed up PRIORITIES. Now, I know that I should have called Child Protective Services. Perhaps the agency did. I did not know that I could have reported them.

The point is, that if many homeless people, seniors on food stamps and others are able to keep their pets and feed and take proper care of them, then the Tuckers could have, too. Where there is a will there is a way. I can understand experiencing tough economic times and have empathy for that. But there are options and resources other than torture and death.

Rocco could not fend for himself and ended up starving, sick and dying a needless death.  Rocco’s owners made their pet suffer needlessly.   Starvation is a torturous way to die.

There are alternatives to the above scenarios. People can feed a pet with food from local resources such as pet food banks, Pets of the Homeless distribution sites, local churches may be willing to help, the local SPCA or animal shelter may have food donated for folks in need, all someone has to do is ASK. Seek and ye shall FIND. Pets of the Homeless also has programs/grants for shelters who will take pets inside shelter and volunteer vets who treat pets of the homeless and low income individuals.


Animal rescue organizations are also a great resource. There are networks of animal advocates such as the Patrick Movement. Best Friends Animal Society also has a national network of animal advocates.

YOUR decision to allow these criminals to starve Rocco has consequences for their other pets. If they are taking care of their other pets then surely they could have taken care of Rocco but chose NOT TO DO SO willfully. Therefore, their other pets ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER and should be taken away. When are they going to decide that the next dog is not deserving to live and should be punished, too???? The Tuckers should be charged/fined TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAWS and that means the maximum JAIL TIME.

Your choice in this matter is love and responsibility or indifference and irresponsibiity. Please choose LOVE. There are way too many suffering animals in this world. Thank you.

My dog Cici and I are proud to be a collection site for Pets of the
Homeless… Patrick’s Pet Food Bank in Seaside, California. We have helped
a 78 year old lady feed her three dogs during a dire time, several
military families as well as lone individuals feed their pets.


CeliaSue Hecht
Freelance Writer/Editor
Seaside, CA 93955


Filed under animal abuse, Patrick, pet care, pit bull, Uncategorized

4 responses to “A dog named Rocco

  1. CeliaSue,
    Excellent article. There ARE resources to help people who can’t take care of their pets for financial (or other) reasons. When a dog is starved to death, I can only think that it was done on purpose. I hope to God that I will never be in the position, but if I couldn’t feed my dogs, I’d ask neighbors for old leftovers taking up space in their fridges, or raid restaurant garbages if I had to. Worst case scenario, I’d surrender them (but I’d have to be totally unable to care for them, as in incapacitated).

    My dogs can go outside anytime they want, but they can also get inside whenever they want. The idea of leaving them out in the cold, starving, is beyond contemplation. I keep asking the same question…how can anyone walk past their starving animal and listen to its pitiful cries until it can cry no more? I am a proponent of no-kill shelters, but it would be more humane to have committed this dog to a high-kill shelter than to torture him to death. My heart breaks every time I look at the photo of his emaciated body lying dead in the snow.

    Sometimes I wonder how anyone could hate a dog they chose so much, but I know I’m wrong. These people don’t hate, they are heartless and have no emotion, no sympathy, no empathy. That’s the only way you could live with yourself if you were so heinously cruel.

    I am so upset by this case–a real miscarriage of justice. I was going to write about it (well, I guess I am now), but if I do, I’ll have to wait, because I am so disgusted by the lack-of-justice system. –bob

    • thanks, dear Bob… the tuckers are sociopaths, clearly. The Judge even said this was torture so I do not get the sentence he gave. am soooo sad and heartbroken at the moment…

  2. Amelia Pearson

    this is horrifying how do you not want to punish these people to the fullest extent of the law… if i run out of dog food my dog has my dinner for the time being i could not eat and know my dog didn’t and if i couldn’t feed him i would surrender him because being put down is better than to perish like this poor boy did:(

  3. I remember all too clearly the fall of 1977. I lived in a small town in central California, (Lemoore, it’s not so small now). My rent was $90 a month for a nice 1 bd room duplex. But then I lost my job and had no means to get another one for some time. My utilities were shut off, I was facing eviction and I survived for nearly 3 weeks on pasta and margarine with salt, pepper and garlic (a neighbor fed me one square meal a week). But through all of this, my 3 dogs ate what they normally would have. There was no way I could look at them, especially as I fed my face, and tell them “sorry guys, no money for your food.” They never went hungry or thirsty. Sadly, I had to give them all up because I couldn’t afford to stay there and had no way to take them with me on a Greyhound bus to NYC where I went to live with my dad. But there is simply NO EXCUSE for any animal to experience this treatment and certainly NO EXCUSE for any judge to allow the criminal(s) to get off so lightly!

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