Borough woman gets jail time for animal cruelty

WATERBURY — A judge sentenced a Naugatuck woman to prison in relation to an animal cruelty case that sparked a shake-up of Naugatuck’s animal control.

Waterbury Superior Court sentenced Valerie Machnics, 42, of 100 Old Highway Road, on Jan. 10 to one year in jail to be suspended after six months, followed by two years of probation.

Naugatuck police charged Machnics in March for neglecting a dog named China, which had severely infected ulcers in its mouth and was severely emaciated. Machnics also surrendered to police on May 4 on charges of neglecting a dog named Max and a 12-year-old pony.

The incident began last January when former Animal Control Officer Kristy Sturges and former Assistant Animal Control Officer Adrienne Croce investigated a complaint of cruelty to animals on Machnic’s property.

Machnics told the animal control officers that she had no money for veterinary care. Croce later came back when she was off duty and picked up China, the sickly pit bull mix. Croce took the dog to a veterinarian without first alerting her superiors. The veterinarian euthanized the dog after determining that it was near death and had suffered for some time.

In May, Sturges, resigned after being suspended for three days for failing to investigate the cruelty to animals case involving the euthanized dog, failing to supervise her personnel and lying about the incident to the human resources department.

The borough also fired Croce for getting a neglected dog euthanized on her own time without consulting her supervisor and for mishandling two other cases.

The shake-up left the animal control facility understaffed. The Naugatuck Police Department has taken over the facility while the Board of Mayor and Burgesses decides what to do next. While they hired four new part-time animal control officers, Sturges’ position will not be filled until the next fiscal year.