May 11, 2007

Student Charged With Dog Abuse Indicted on Felony Charges

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A Tompkins County grand jury indicted Alexander Atkind ’06, the alleged dog torturer, on animal cruelty charges Tuesday, according to The Ithaca Journal. Atkind, a fifth-year Cornell senior, is suspected of beating and pouring bleach on Princess, a Labrador-pit bull mix in early March, leaving her with little or no eyesight for life.

Originally, Atkind was to face charges of overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal, a Class A misdemeanor. However, the charge was moved up to aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class E felony.

A grand jury is made up of 23 people whose identity is kept secret; the presentation is closed to the public. The grand jury did not rule on Atkind’s guilt or innocence, but rather whether there appeared to be sufficient evidence to merit a felony charge.

If found guilty, Atkind could face up to two years in county jail, District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson told the Ithaca Journal. However, the possible sentence is still unclear, Wilkinson said last week, as the case falls under agriculture and markets law, rather than penal law.

Wilkinson was unavailable for comment.

Atkind will appear before the Ithaca City Court at a later date to determine whether or not he is guilty. Though his court date was originally scheduled for April 25th, Wilkinson asked that the date be moved back thirty days to prepare for the more serious charges. He is currently being held at Tompkins County Jail on $20,000 bail.

Atkind is also charged with a third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a Class B felony. When the police investigated a car accident that Atkind was involved in on March 17 in Tioga County, he was found to have hallucinogenic mushrooms, The Journal wrote.

Meanwhile, Princess is improving, according to The Ithaca Journal. Since initially being taken to Cornell’s veterinary hospital to be treated for chemical burns, Princess has made regular visits to the hospital, said Tompkins County SPCA Executive Director Abigail Smith.

Many people have been donating money to the SPCA for Princess’ recovery, according to Smith, including a $2000 donation from Bruce Shindhelm, the owner of Finger Lakes Wrecker Service. $4000 has been raised and spent so far to help Princess.