NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After a not guilty verdict in an animal abuse case, the accused animal owner is speaking out.
He’s faulting the public for a rush to judgement, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
Peter Tsadilas and his yellow lab, Callie, were reunited Friday. Callie was taken away 14 months ago after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Tsadilas with starving her, but a jury found him not guilty.
“I feel vindicated. I feel like the right thing was done here,” Tsadilas said.
Skin-and-bone pictures of Callie unleashed a torrent of social media venom against not only him, but the diner he owns in Huntington. His mugshot circulated, branded as “too greedy to feed his dog.”
His business was boycotted, comments online reading, “Let’s starve your pockets” and “Hope your restaurant is empty.”
It now often is.
“People throwing things at the diner. Nobody wants to step foot in there. It’s crazy,” Tsadilas said.
Tsadilas testified at his trial that he never intentionally starved the dog but had her on a special diet to lose fatty tumors. He says he was unaware of a later-discovered ovarian tumor, which contributed to her weight loss.
“They found a six-pound ovarian tumor, which all of the experts and all of the veterinarians agreed would have affected her ability to gain weight, maintain weight and would potentially have caused her to rapidly lose weight, and [Tsadilas] would have had no knowledge,” defense attorney Robert Schalk said.
“There was no asking me any questions. It was just, you know, give up the dog or get arrested,” Tsadilas said. “They didn’t want to know the truth.”
A spokesman for the District Attorney says they respect the verdict.
The case focused not only on Callie’s weight, but also the fact she had fleas and an ear infection prosecutors argued had been neglected.
Officials discovered the ailments after Callie got loose and was turned into an animal shelter.
Tsadilas says the fleas were picked up while she was missing and the ear infection was being treated.
“Don’t rush to judge because you never know,” Tsadilas said. “I very well may lose my diner, but I definitely did not lose my dog, so that’s a good thing.”
He claims the public rush to judgement cost him dearly.
If convicted, he could have faced up to a year in jail and a 10-year animal ban. The Nassau SPCA had no comment.