News Alert
Ocean County's Suspected 'Red Bull' Robbers Still …

UPDATE: Brick Pair Sentenced To Six Months In Jail For Abusing Sammy the Dog

A visibly upset Shauna Morgan said: "I should have foreseen this"

Municipal prosecutor plays footage of Keith Morgan, who pleaded guilty to charges relating to leaving a cocker spaniel in a trash bag. Morgan, facing sentencing, claimed he found the dog on the side of the road. Photo by Cat Galioto.
Municipal prosecutor plays footage of Keith Morgan, who pleaded guilty to charges relating to leaving a cocker spaniel in a trash bag. Morgan, facing sentencing, claimed he found the dog on the side of the road. Photo by Cat Galioto.
By Catherine Galioto

A township couple who pleaded guilty to charges relating to leaving a cocker spaniel in a trash bag were each sentenced Monday to six months in jail, and were ordered to pay $1,000 fines.

The pair, who received the maximum jail sentence for the animal abuse charges, must also pay a total of $13,000 in restitution to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital. Both were barred from ever owning a dog again.

Keith and Shauna Morgan, of Sawmill Road, appeared in Brick Municipal Court before Judge Robert LePore and expressed remorse, saying they wished they could change what happened.

The pair had claimed to find the dog on the side of a road in Wall Township, but now admit that the story was a lie.

In court, a visibly upset Shauna Morgan said: "I should have foreseen this. If I would have foreseen this, it never would have happened. He would have gotten help. This isn't what we wanted. We wanted to get him help."

"It was a bad time in my life," said Keith Morgan. "I shouldn't have lied...wanted to apologize to my wife, Shauna. She wasn't there at the time."

LePore noted that the description of Sammy, in medical records, says he was "emaciated and dehydrated...he literally was too weak to stand."

"This illustrates behavior by the defendants that was heinous and cruel," the judge said. "How easily this could have been prevented. The gravity of this was such that he couldn't stand...it took 25 days of treatment to get him well."

Steven Zabarsky, the municipal prosecutor, painted a picture of the defendants as a pair who hatched a plan together, and willingly drove out of their way to the Red Bank SPCA to "concoct their story."

He said the household history in the Morgans showed another pet dog, a 3-year old, was "the picture of health."

"They let Samurai suffer...he was neglected, without food, without water, while the other dog was cared for," said the prosecutor, who asked for the maximum jail sentence. "The dog is permanently deaf, with a cleft foot."

The counsel for the Morgans, Marc B. Schram of Hazlet, brought up the pair's veterinary history with the dog, saying evidence shows the dog was treated regularly. "What's not in there is any evidence suggesting physical abuse neglect or misconduct," the counsel said.

The counsel also suggested Keith Morgan's recent health issues made him "unfit to care for two pets, let alone himself."

"Again this is not an excuse a defense...his life just fell off the tracks and he regrets this," the counsel said. "It was a moment of weakness. He just wanted to get the dog help" by fabricating a story to the SPCA that they had found the dog.

As the counsel outlined the Morgan's statement of remorse, LePore asked, "They had their hand in the cookie jar. What did you expect them to do?"

LePore then demanded to know how Keith Morgan managed to take care of himself but not take care of the pet. The counsel argued the incident was not premeditated. 

"Does it have to say it's premeditated?" LePore interrupted.

"This is not who he's been his entire life," counsel said.

In a previous court proceeding, Keith Morgan entered pleas of guilty to abuse and animal cruelty, and filing a false report with police. Shauna Morgan entered guilty pleas to two counts of abuse and neglect.

A charge of abandonment was dismissed.

Victor "Buddy" Amato, the chief humane law enforcement officer of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, previously called the plea a "win," because the charges that were dismissed mirrored others charges with which the Morgans had been charged.

The community group “Sammy the Cocker Spaniel” recently posted a Facebook message urging for a maximum sentence. The group has more than 20,000 members. “

"Keith and Shauna Morgan pleaded guilty to abusing their dog Sammy, a lovely senior dog who was stuffed into a garbage bag, unable to walk and barely alive. Let's hope and pray that justice is served and that the maximum sentence is imposed at the sentencing hearing, Monday, in Brick, N.J.”

gwyn lucas November 18, 2013 at 05:20 PM
of course she would have done this if she had forseen she was going to be in trouble...fact is ....she did do it...and that poor dog suffered. MAXIMUM AND NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be allowed to own another animal.
Judith Mirbach November 18, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Congratulations Sammy you won!!!! Hope this is a lessen to everyone who abuses animals.
read bull November 18, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Carol November 18, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Kudos to the municipal prosecutor who saw through all the lies and to the judge who set the attorney's straight. The sad part is they're out of jail pending their appeal. He has a public defender and she is paying her own attorney. I hope this drags through the court until the Morgans are penniless. Oh wait, they'll declare Bankruptcy and stiff the attorney while every taxpayer is paying for Morgan's attorney and appeal.
Arbie Brown November 18, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Carol, you make some very good points. But, I am glad that FINALLY, FINALLY a judge actually sentences people in a manner befitting the crime. So many times in the past the sentences are a joke like the Patrick the dog case and the Dhahrun Ravi-don't care enough about him to check the spelling of his name-case. Thank you Judge Lepore. Hopefully, your sentence will spare some other helpless animal from suffering like Sammy did. If we really wanted to stop this, the legislature would change the max sentence from six months to mandatory ten years. It's not about the punishment, it's about deterrence.
Laci November 18, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Hope the same goes for the kid in Asbury, with the dog Heaven...........
WMS826 November 18, 2013 at 06:53 PM
That is so great....hope they lose their section eight housing in Sawmill and find pastures some place else.
Penn Cross November 18, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I wish the Judge had banned them from owning all animals, not just dogs. I'd hate to see them with a cat or any kind of animal.
Craig Enos November 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
they should have done to them what they did to poor sammy
Bill Rapalee November 18, 2013 at 07:52 PM
We have a similar case in Oneida County Courts, NY State. Lainey's death spurred the creation of Justice For Lainey FB page, much like Sammy did. With over 3000 members and counting, the goal is to strengthen the archaic animal abuse laws to felony status. The abuse cases have been off the charts here over the past few years. Lainey's abuser was in court for first time last week - 2 years ago this wouldn't have happened. Kudos to all you folks who stood up for sweet Sammy and got some justice - we are hoping for the same.
Bill Rapalee November 18, 2013 at 07:55 PM
As an added point - it is because of Lainey's page that we know of Sammy. There is power in numbers and communication. Thank you so much for taking care of Sammy!
NancyInTR November 18, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Wait. If she "had forseen"...what? That she would have to go to jail if she was caught? Then she would have gotten Sammy treatment? Then she would have not kept him in a cage, ungroomed, unfed, and so caked in matted hair and feces that he could not stand? And that's what passes for REMORSE? OMG. She is a monster.
Diane Murphy November 18, 2013 at 08:37 PM
That's all they got ,6months for animal abuse,, not right, they should have gotten years in jail,,,there will never be justice. For animal abuse,,,,,I hate it,,,,...Diane Murphy,,,,,,
Arbie Brown November 18, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Unfortunately, Diane, I believe by statute, six months is the max sentence. Hence my point that the legislature should change the law and, as Bill Rapalee says, animal abuse should be upgraded to felony status. In my last posting I said the max sentence should not be six months but ten years--mandatory ten years.
DENNIS SYLVESTER November 18, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Justice was served.
none of yobusiness November 18, 2013 at 10:25 PM
What if we put them in their jail cage and not feed them or allow them to bathe. Dont see them having a smooth jail experience. Prisoners love animals too. Mr Morgan may become somebody's woman.
Arbie Brown November 18, 2013 at 11:03 PM
I am with you; make them live in the same conditions they imposed on that poor little dog. Unfortunately, the ACLU would not allow that. I guess they don't have animals.
bayboat November 19, 2013 at 06:37 AM
You can beat the crap out of someone and leave them for dead on the side of the road and not get 6 months.
proud November 19, 2013 at 07:15 AM
Would not a kennel be a more apropriate facility for the pair to serve their term in?
Nancy zorochin November 19, 2013 at 08:18 AM
First, i want to Thank the prosecutor the Judge and all the Sammy supporters out there!Thank God for people like you. IT is about time for justice for these helpless animals. The Morgan's got what they deserved, but hardly enough. They deserve so much worse. I pray that Heaven in Asbury gets the same kind of justice. Keep up the great work. I will always support your cause!
Tapuout November 19, 2013 at 09:59 AM
Oh please all of the people with their protest signs and crying in court for a dog when meanwhile ocean county is saturated with drugs, specifically heroin, people are dying and committing crimes that affect us all to support their habit, dealers are getting probation or 30 days in jail and everyone is more worried about an animal your priorities are askew and pathetic.
Notbricktrash November 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM
Pathetic excuses. The vet didn't see this? It takes a long time for a dog to get this way it doesn't happen over night. I'm glad they are going to jail however they need longer time. I don't believe one thing the Morgans told the court, they lied from the beginning. Good job to the supporters and protesters for his justice. It makes me sick Patricks owner got off the hook with his abuse. I hope the Morgans experience hell in jail. Don't bend for a bar of soap! Losers
Legion November 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM
@ tapout: those junkies chose to shoot up and commit crimes. This poor dog certainly didn't choose to be abused almost to the point of death. I can tell by your post you don't have a dog and don't understand the 100% unconditional love and dedication they give you. If I had it my way the Morgans would be hung from the flag poles outside city hall.
Legion November 19, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Even if I only had enough food to feed one of us my dog would be eating before me.
lisa November 19, 2013 at 02:32 PM
6 months is not enough!!
Arbie Brown November 19, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Legion: you go!!!! That is EXACTLY the difference. Tapuout, all the people you mention CHOOSE to live like that. I agree with you about the sentencing for these dealers. The problem is that this country has no discernible criminal justice system. What we have instead is an ACLU. Life in prison should be the sentence for one single conviction of selling illegal drugs of any kind at any quantity. Twenty years should be the penalty for purchasing any drug at any quantity. I dare guess that type of criminal justice system would curtail the drug trade considerably. But again, these people choose that life. The animals do not choose how they live. People choose the animal and then decide how the animal gets to live. These vile people, so severely lacking in any kind of character, hurt this poor little dog who had no choice and no means or method of escape. The most heartbreaking part is, if the dog had the chance, he would probably lick their hands. I have a really hard time wishing bad things on people but from the bottom of my heart, from the depths of my soul, with every fiber of my being, I truly hope these two people never know a day's peace or a moment's joy for the rest of their lives.
Tony December 08, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Notbricktrash December 11, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Just heard from an insider they were released already from jail
proud December 11, 2013 at 04:30 PM
The APP reported that the couple were free until their appeal was heard. No date set yet.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »