NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A woman who admitted abandoning a dog later found at the bottom of a trash chute in a case that became a cause celebre and led to tougher animal cruelty laws was sentenced to probation Thursday by a judge who urged the animal’s supporters to “put things in perspective.”
The Essex County prosecutor’s office had sought to have Kisha Curtis given the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to fourth-degree animal cruelty last month just before her trial was to begin. She got 18 months of probation instead.
Curtis, 29, admitted that she left the pit bull tied to a railing outside her Newark apartment building in 2011 when she left town for a week. The emaciated dog was found in a plastic bag at the bottom of the building’s trash chute, unable to stand and weighing about 20 pounds, or about 30 pounds below normal weight.
He was nursed back to health at a veterinary hospital and is now happy and healthy, his new owners wrote in a letter read to the court Thursday.
Curtis didn’t admit throwing the dog down the trash chute.
Judge Joseph Cassini III said Curtis was “tried in the court of public opinion” and “portrayed as a monster” in the weeks and months after her arrest. The prosecutor’s office, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the facility that treated the dog — known as Patrick because he was discovered around St. Patrick’s Day — received thousands of letters, faxes and emails from people around the world offering support or advice. Some even urged Cassini to give Curtis the death penalty.
Speaking to a courtroom filled with green-shirted supporters of Patrick, Cassini said he is a dog lover and owns two German shepherds but contrasted Curtis’ case with one scheduled in his courtroom later Thursday in which a man stands accused of killing a Newark police officer.
“On a scale of 10, with 10 being the most serious, Ms. Curtis’ case, from where I sit, is around a three or a four,” he said. “In this case, fortunately, no one was killed; Patrick survived and is thriving. We have to put things in perspective.”
That reasoning didn’t sit well with members of a group called Prayers For Patrick who attended the sentencing.
“I just wanted her to serve some time,” said Allison Ognibene of Sparta. “She left this dog to die. After 2½ years of dragging this out, I don’t think justice was served.”
Curtis, whose hair was dyed bright pink, didn’t make a statement before she was sentenced and didn’t comment outside the courtroom afterward. Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Margarita Rivera said Curtis, a mother of four, was entitled to a probationary term by law because of the level of the offense and the fact she had didn’t have a criminal record. She said Curtis also has followed court-ordered mental health and substance-abuse counseling since her arrest and appears to be turning her life around.
“She has done well the last two years; she has been a model citizen,” Rivera said. “(The judge) followed the law and followed it justly.”
This month, Gov. Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law,” which increases fines and maximum prison sentences for some animal cruelty offenses.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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