Who is Tonya Fea? New Jersey woman admits to drowning puppy as she couldn't afford vet bills

Tonya Fea pled guilty for animal cruelty in the 2019 drowning of her female golden retreiver puppy and will not be allowed to own another dog


                            Who is Tonya Fea? New Jersey woman admits to drowning puppy as she couldn't afford vet bills
Tonya Fea pled guilty to animal cruelty in the 2019 drowning of her female golden retriever puppy (West Milford Police Department)

Trigger Warning: Animal cruelty

A New Jersey woman admitted she drowned and killed her puppy who needed extra care. The woman murdered the 10-week old adopted puppy, who according to her, needed expensive veterinary care, something which the woman was unable to afford. 

Speaking of cruelty against animals especially dogs, Natasha Brown of Stanley County, Durham picked up her pet terrier and attacked it in an alcohol and drug-fueled rage in February. She was spared jail time over punching her dog to death after her ex-girlfriend rejected her advances. Lisa Snyder from Pennsylvania was accused of having sex with her family pit bull amongst other charges which also included fatally hanging her two children. In the last week of July, Atlanta woman Katherine Janness and her dog were both stabbed to death when she stepped out for a walk. 

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Who is Tonya Fea?

Fea was accused of the heinous crime in 2019 and she had opted to not attend the first court date on charges of animal cruelty, trespassing, and disorderly persons. A rescue officer at The Last Resort Rescue had discovered the crate in which the puppy was drowned at Greenwood Pond off Bonter Road on April 30, 2019. The golden retriever puppy was "ice cold", soaked inside the crate. The puppy training pads were stuck to the sides of the animal's head with a small amount of blood on them. A crystal vase was placed inside the crate too. 

Fea, a native of Jefferson Township, New Jersey had told police that the animal was already dead but an autopsy revealed the cause of death as "asphyxiation due to immersion in water." Fast forward to August 12, Fea pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. The 49-year-old admitted to have drowned the 10-week-old female puppy and prosecutors are recommending she spend 180 days in jail followed by five years of probation. She will not be able to own a dog in the future. 

Fea said she "panicked" while deciding to "dispose" the sick dog. “You knew the ground was frozen so burying it was very difficult, so you decided to submerge [the dog] in the pond?” Fea’s attorney asked. “Yes,” she replied. Reports say Fea was sobbing for the whole 20 minutes during her virtual hearing where she admitted her dog was breathing “but just laying there" in the morning of the drowning. She said she did not check if the puppy had a pulse and she immediately headed to the pond. "I panicked," she told the judges when asked why she put the puppy in the water. 

"What was the reason for the panic?” Judge Marilyn Clark continued. “You say you panicked, but you had a vet appointment that morning and you chose not to take the dog to the vet, you chose to take the dog in a cage and submerge it in a lake. So what were you panicking about?” Fea didn't immediately have an answer and her attorney stepped in for her, saying she had adopted the dogs just days earlier and the vet appointment too was made when she first got the puppy. Her attorney Richard Baldi later added her client decided to bail on the appointment over financial concerns.

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