What a sad state of affairs, when a person cruelly starves a pet and doesn’t spend a day in jail. The animal welfare crowd has a lot of work ahead of them.
Kenn, Max & Remy
Patrick the pit bull, the famed miracle dog of New Jersey, finally had his day in court. Unfortunately, his abuser merely received a slap on the wrist.
Kisha Curtis, 29, was charged with two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment. The emaciated puppy had been dropped 19 stories down a trash chute in March of 2011.
The pit bull (later named Patrick for St. Patrick’s Day, when he had been rescued) was nearly dead when a worker found him barely moving in a trash bag in the dumpster. Patrick wasn’t expected to live through the night, but showed tenacity with a will to live and made a slow but miraculous recovery that has been cataloged over the last two-and-a-half years.
In spite of the photo evidence, Kisha Curtis repeatedly denied starving or abusing the dog. She said she had only had the dog for two days before realizing she would be unable to care for him. She left the dog, that she hadn’t yet named, in the hallway for the security guard to handle. She claims the dog was doing well when she leashed it to a stairwell doorknob in her hallway. She then reportedly left town. She said she was upset after seeing the news photos of the sick, emaciated dog days later. She claims she is not the one who discarded the dog in the trash.
Patrick was unable to stand and weighed only 20 pounds, about 30 pounds underweight. His story gained international attention and supporters including financial donations and even a pledge for a new animal shelter called “Patrick’s Place.”
Meanwhile, Curtis initially rejected a plea offer that the prosecutor offered which would have called for up to 18 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and 30 days community service. Curtis and her lawyer countered by asking for a pretrial intervention, a program for first-time offenders that offers alternatives to prosecution. Defendants who are admitted to and complete the intervention program receive early resolution of their case and convictions will be expunged from their record. The courts rejected this offer.
On July 30, 2013, Curtis finally plead guilty to fourth-degree animal cruelty and gave up all rights to Patrick. Her sentencing was anticipated to be light due to the fact that she was a first-time offender.
On August 7, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law,” (S1303) into effect. The new law states that failure to prove an animal with food or water would be a fourth-degree crime instead of a disorderly person’s offense. If the dog dies as a result of the mistreatment, it would be upped to a third degree crime. A first time abuser punishment fines increased from $1,000 to $3,000. A second offense could land an abuser in jail for a year with fines up to $5,000.
In spite of this law and the international outcry, Curtis was sentenced to just 18 months of probation and a $2,000 fine for restitution to the New Jersey American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Patricia Scavelli, who has been caring for Patrick, has been awarded full custody.