Former NFL player Terrence Cody has been sentenced to nine months in jail for a string of misdemeanors including starving a dog to death.
The sportsman took his Canary Mastiff, Taz, which was severely malnourished to an animal hospital close to his home in Reisterstown, Maryland, in January last year.
The dog, which had lost half its weight, died just hours later.
Cody, 27, who played for the Ravens from 2010 to 2014, was found guilty of misdemeanor charges in November 2015, but was acquitted of the more serious felony charges of animal cruelty and sentenced last week.
Prosecutors claimed the case was one of animal torture by starvation, but Judge Judith C. Ensor said she did not believe the former NFL player had intentionally tortured Taz.
To secure a conviction for the cruelty charges prosecutors would have had to prove Cody intentionally tortured his dog, People reported.
Adam Lippe, who prosecuted the case, said Cody did not feed his dog for ‘a minimum of four weeks’ but possibly ‘up to ten’.
‘The vet did an autopsy and there was nothing wrong with the dog. This was a 100 percent starvation case,’ he added.
Cody allegedly kept Taz in his garage where he was surrounded by his own excrement and urine.
After the dog began to shed its intestine lining, because he was starving, its crate was also covered in blood.
Mr Lippe described the cage where Taz was held in Cody’s garage as a ‘house of horrors’.
The prosecutor said he was happy with the sentence of nine months, but remained puzzled as to why the neglect took place.
‘I can’t explain to you why he decided to kill this animal,’ Mr Lippe told the Baltimore Sun. ‘It makes no sense at all.’
Cody’s lawyer, Joe Murtha, said that the dog was kept in the garage because it was thought he had worms.
Mr Murtha said the case was clearly one of neglect, rather than intentional torture as his client had taken his pet to the vet and cried when told the prognosis.
Cody, who was also sentenced for drug offences, will be held at Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson.
He has additionally been sentenced to an 18 month probationary period, during which time he will not be barred from owning an animal
Cody’s girlfriend, Kourtney J. Kelley, 28, was also found implicated in the animal neglect case and jailed for 60 days.