Jan. 14—A former Delaware County man charged with animal neglect and abuse was sentenced to jail Thursday, Jan. 13, almost two years after 20 dogs were rescued from his property in squalid conditions that indicated the dogs were being used for dogfighting.
Nasir Azmat, who pleaded guilty to one count of a New York Agriculture and Markets Law misdemeanor of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance, on Oct. 14, 2021, was sentenced in town of Sidney Court to 60 days in jail and three years of supervised probation. During that time he and his family are prohibited from owning any animal.
Delaware County District Attorney John Hubbard said after the sentencing that the class A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail, but the probation term would have been capped if the maximum sentence were imposed.
"Our thinking was it was more important to have a longer probation period where inspections can be done at his house," Hubbard said.
He said his office received between 400 and 500 letters about the case from people around the country and they all said Azmat needed to be held accountable for his actions.
Azmat was arrested in February 2020 and charged with 41 misdemeanor violations of New York Agriculture and Markets Law. He was also was charged with 20 counts of possessing dogs under circumstances evincing an intent that such animals engage in animal fighting; one count of owning or possessing animal-fighting paraphernalia with the intent to engage in or otherwise promote or facilitate animal fighting; and 20 counts of overdriving, torturing and injuring animals by failing to provide proper sustenance. He was also ticketed by the town of Franklin dog control officer and charged with 19 counts of harboring an unlicensed dog.
Delaware County sheriff's deputies investigated a tip of animal neglect at Azmat's home on county Highway 21 in the town of Franklin. On Feb. 5, 2020, deputies discovered the dogs crammed two or three to a crate, stacked four high in a barn on Azmat's property. The dogs were transported to the Delaware Valley Humane Society in Sidney by deputies, local dog control officers and DVHS director Erin Insinga and volunteer Jill Stafford.
The dogs, who were emaciated and injured, were treated by veterinarian Matthew Culverwell of the Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital in Norwich. Stafford said four of the rescued dogs had to be euthanized, but the other 16 found homes.
The case was postponed numerous times, first when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped all court cases, and then when Franklin Town Justice Gary P. Arndt recused himself from the case in August 2021. Hubbard offered a plea deal that was at first rejected by Azmat and later approved by him. Azmat was scheduled to be sentenced late last year, but his wife tested positive for COVID-19 and he was quarantined, Stafford said.
"We've been waiting two years to get justice in this case," Insinga said. "He is going to jail. He is going to have to wait for someone to feed him or give him water or allow him to use the bathroom. He's going to experience the life those animals lived."
Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond said after seeing the outcome of the case he is working with the state sheriff's association to get stricter laws enacted for people accused of abusing animals. He said Cpl. Eric Alexander told him it was "very satisfying to be able to put him (Azmat) in handcuffs." Alexander was the officer who investigated the case.
"I hope a message was sent to anyone who even thinks about doing this," DuMond said. "We will hunt you down and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."
Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.