BRICK - The former owners of Sammy the dog will each spend six months in jail for abusing and neglecting the cocker spaniel eariler this year. 

Keith Morgan pleaded guilty to a count of animal abuse and cruelty and one count of filing a false report. Shauna Morgan pleaded guilty to two charges of abuse and neglect.

The couple apologized and offered brief statements of explanation, but Judge Robert LePore was not swayed.

They received the maximum sentence. The couple was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and restitution of $13,000 for Sammy's vet bills.

The courtroom, packed with animal lovers and Sammy supporters, erupted as the verdict was read.

Chief Buddy Amato of the Monmouth County SPCA was also pleased. "Not enough of this happens," Amato says. "Not enough judges see this as a true crime. This judge did. It was great."

Sammy was brought to a Monmouth County shelter in March by the Morgans, who said they found him in a trash bag. Investigators later discovered the Morgans actually owned the dog.

The Morgans' attorneys say they plan to appeal the sentencing.