(Photo: News 12 New Jersey screenshot)
A judge has sentenced a New Jersey woman to 18 months parole for abandoning her dog in 2011, dumping the pit bull in a trash can when she went on vacation.
Kisha Curtis allegedly threw her dog in the garbage when she went on vacation in 2011. When Curtis' pit bull, Patrick, was later found in a trash compactor, it weighed just 19 pounds and was covered in sores.
Curtis has denied the claims, maintaining that she left the dog in the hallway, but pleaded guilty to fourth-degree animal cruelty in July.
Over the course of the trial, the courthouse received over 600 letters and faxes from animal lovers around the world expressing pity for Patrick, and demanding that Curtis receive a harsh sentence. Another citizens group, "The Patrick Movement," had petitioned for Curtis to receive 18 months in prison.
Desite the outcry, Essex County Judge Joseph Cassini III did not allow the sentiments to affect his sentencing.
Cassini explained that while Patrick had clearly been mistreated, there were offenses graver than the one Curtis was charged for, mentioning an earlier case that had involved a man killing a police officer.
"On a scale of one to 10, I would say that murdering a Newark police officier is at the top of the scale. On the scale of one to 10, Ms. Curtis' case [which] from where I sit, is around a three or a four," he said during the sentencing. "In this case, fortunately, no one was killed; Patrick survived and is thriving. We have to put things in perspective," adding that Curtis had already been "tried in the court of public opinion" and "portrayed as a monster."
After the sentencing, Curtis expressed remorse for how she had treated her former dog.
"I really do apologize for placing Patrick in harm. I realize by me leaving him, is why he suffered pain," Curtis told New Jersey News 12. I'm happy he's healthy. I'm happy he's living. Someone loves him.
Martin Mondoken, who attended the sentencing, still felt that without jail time, there was not a sufficient disincentive for would-be animal abusers to act humanely, saying that they would likely justify their actions thinking "I'll get probation, I'll pay some fines, I'll do restitution."
Despite the public's failure to convince the judge to hand down a harsher punishment for Curtis, last month, New Jersey recently passed 'Patrick's Law," an animal rights bill increasing the fines and maximum prison sentences for animal cruelty offenses.
Patrick will remain in the possession of the Smillie-Scavelli's, the veterinarian and his wife who took him in and helped him recover.
"Everyone thought that, you bring in an animal like that, that looks like it's really just a corpse, you put it to sleep," Patricial Smillie-Scavelli said, according to The Daily Mail. "But of course, he looked up at you with those eyes, and you say: How can you give up on this dog? How can you, when he's not giving up on life? So, we gave him that second chance, and he has just run with it, and thrived."