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 (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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