An Omaha man who let his two pit bulls starve to death then dumped them in a ravine was sentenced to 15 months in prison Wednesday.

Shane T. Palmer, 44, pleaded no contest in July to felony animal neglect and abandonment with serious injury.

Following Nebraska’s good-time law, he will serve half that time — about seven and a half months — and have credit for 64 days already spent in jail.

Douglas County District Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf also imposed nine months of probation and a 15-year restriction from owning or residing with any animals.

The charge carried a maximum sentence of two years, which was requested by Mark Langan, the vice president of field operations for the Nebraska Humane Society. However, Langan said the prison sentence will still give Palmer time to think about the “horrendous” acts he committed.

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Investigators found the bodies of two male dogs, Pokie and Boss, in a ravine near Palmer’s house near 16th and Pratt Streets on Jan. 9. The dogs were emaciated, had frostbite and appeared to have been thrown down the ravine until they got stuck on a roll of carpet, according to court documents.

Palmer had told investigators that his dogs were missing for a period, but he changed his story and blamed others who he said were supposed to care for the dogs. He also fled when investigators asked him for identification when he was going to be ticketed, the court documents said.

A necropsy by a Nebraska Humane Society veterinarian verified the primary cause of death as starvation and the secondary cause as hypothermia, officials said.

Palmer declined to speak to the judge at sentencing and his attorney, John Jedlicka, did not specifically address the animal case.

Retelsdorf said that if the dogs were sick and needed to be put down by the Humane Society, that is not inhumane.

“To allow an animal to stave to death is cruel,” she said. “And there’s a level of cruelty behind it.”

Langan said the Nebraska Humane Society will gladly come and pick up pets from owners who do not want them or cannot care for them properly. There are no questions asked, he said.

There are hundreds of “owner surrender” calls the organization responds to per year, and thousands more cases counting people who drop off their pets at the building.

He sees about three or four abandonment cases per year that rise to the level of a felony charge and wants pet owners to get the message that the Humane Society is there to help.

“When people choose to own dogs, they accept the responsibility to care for the dogs,” he said. “This defendant did not do that.”

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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