William David Meek, who pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty in the 2014 drowning of a border collie named Zelda, has been sentenced to three years in county jail.
Meek, 47, entered the non-negotiated plea in May, and Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ben Davidian imposed the maximum sentence Friday, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office news release. In addition, Meek cannot own, possess, maintain, live with or care for animals for 10 years.
Meek had previously been sentenced to a consecutive 270 days in a separate drug possession case after being dropped from the Proposition 36 drug diversion program. As a result, he will serve a total of three years and nine months, prosecutors said.
In June 2014, Meek told his girlfriend he was taking her 13-year-old border collie to Sacramento’s Front Street animal shelter and left with the dog. But instead of taking Zelda to the shelter, he placed a bowling ball and large river rock in a bag and tied the 25 pounds of weight to one end of Zelda’s leash and the other end of the leash to the dog’s collar, which he tightly adjusted around her snout. Meek then drove to East Sacramento and dumped the dog into the cold, fast-flowing waters of the American River, authorities said.
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A resident in the nearby River Park neighborhood spotted Zelda’s body floating several days later, still partially weighted down by the bag. A necropsy on Zelda revealed river debris in the dog’s trachea and found that the likely cause of death was hypoxia, resulting from water inhalation.
When Meek was notified a felony animal abuse warrant had been issued for him, he fled to Nevada. He has been in custody since his arrest Nov. 3.