MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Former professional baseball player Shawn Abner has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in the death of a dog authorities say was left alone for weeks without care.
Abner, 53, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. Misdemeanor counts of cruelty and neglect were dismissed.
He could face up to seven years in prison when he’s sentenced Jan. 21. However, because this is his first offense, sentencing guidelines are probation to six months, Cumberland County District Attorney Skip Ebert told ABC27.
Abner, the first pick in the 1984 Major League Baseball Draft, was arrested in Topeka, Kansas, on a warrant out of Cumberland County in August.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Hampden Township police, Abner abandoned and intentionally neglected his 14-year-old husky, named Eagle, when he left for Kansas.
Abner had asked a neighbor to check on Eagle, and the neighbor found the dog dead just inside the doorway on Aug. 7. When the neighbor told Abner the dog had died, Abner told him to “bury it somewhere” because he wouldn’t be home for a couple more days, the complaint states.
After police obtained a search warrant, an officer entered Abner’s home wearing an air pack due to the overwhelming foul odor. The dog appeared to have been dead for at least a month.
Abner told police he left the area on July 19 to visit his girlfriend in Kansas and had not planned on staying long. He said he left food and water for Eagle but admitted he had no one caring for him, police said.
Neighbors told police they hadn’t seen or heard the dog since May or June.
Abner remains in Cumberland County Prison on reduced bail.