WEST AMWELL — The owner of the truck seen dragging a dog for nearly four miles — ultimately leading to the dog's death — has been charged with failing to report the accident.

The New Jersey SPCA said Monday it agreed with local police that the death of the dog on April 4 was "accidental." That determination by local police had been controversial — the animal control officer in the town resigned over the failure to press charges.

Doing its own investigation, the SPCA said the truck owner, identified as Todd Kuhl of Lambertville, had dragged the chained dog more than three miles, not realizing it had been moved from a trailer on his property. The SPCA called the dog's death a "tragic accident."

Carolyn Murphy, the former animal control officer, told New Jersey 101.5 last week witnesses had reported seeing the dog pulled behind the truck, and said it should have been the driver's responsibility to report the accident and not bystanders.

"If you hit an animal in the state of New Jersey, whether it's accidental or not, you have to report it to the police, and that wasn't done," she said at the time.

Murphy, until her resignation in late May, had served West Amwell and Lambertville under a shared services arrangement. She said she resigned after less than six months on the job because of issues with both governing bodies not following her recommendations, as well as compliance issues with state laws and statutes.

In announcing the charges, the SPCA noted that Murphy had not been officially appointed to handle animal cruelty issues despite Murphy having gone through the process of getting the proper certification.

Kuhl was charged with one count of failure to report an injured dog in a motor vehicle accident to the SPCA or local police. The charge, according to the SPCA, is a disorderly persons offense that carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine. Kuhl is scheduled to appear in court on July 12.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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