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Tag: sentence

Son pleads guilty in Oregon murder-for-hire case in which dog was the target

David James Walkoski.jpgDerek James Walkoski.jpgAn Oregon City man pleaded guilty to shooting a dog that belonged to his father’s neighbor.

Police say the father paid for the hit.

For his involvement in what authorities described as a murder-for-hire, Derek James Walkoski, 31, will spend 28 months in prison for shooting and killing Paws, a black Lab that lived next door to his father in Canby.

In a hearing in Clackamas County, Walkoski told Circuit Judge Robert R. Selander that he shot the dog with a rifle, the Oregonian reported.

“You just shot him?” Selander asked.

“Yes,” Walkoski said.

“Any reason?” Selander asked. “Any justifiable reason?”

“No, your honor,” Walkoski said.

Walkoski pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated animal abuse. He also pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and recklessly endangering another.

Paws’ owner, sitting in the back row of the courtroom gallery, did not address the court.

Walkoski’s father, David James Walkoski, 61, whose trial is set for June 18, hasn’t admitted to any involvement in the killing of Paws.  But he was arrested during the court hearing when prosecutors informed the judge he, while free on bail, pointed his finger at Paws’ owners and simulated firing a pistol – despite an existing no-contact order issued by the court. He was charged with contempt of court and booked into the Clackamas County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.

According to police reports, the Walkoskis’ neighbor returned to his home in April 2012  to find his dog dead. Police said the father paid his son to kill the animal, but did not offer a motive for the shooting.

(Photos: David James Walkoski (left) and his son, Derek James Walkoski)

Patrick’s owner enters not guilty plea


A not guilty plea was entered Friday on behalf of Kisha Curtis, the Newark woman accused of animal cruelty charges stemming from the discovery of a dog who’d been tossed down a trash chute and left to die in a garbage bin.

The 1-year-old pit bull, whose rescuers named him Patrick, continues to recover at an area animal hospital.

Public defender Regina Lynch entered the plea in Superior Court in Newark on behalf of Curtis, 27, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. She appeared at the hearing via a video hookup from the Essex County Jail.

Curtis faces two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, said Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello.

After the hearing, Kisha’s mother, Tammie Curtis, said her daughter didn’t discard the dog, but only left him tethered at the high-rise Garden Spires apartments in Newark — while she went on a trip to Albany. She implied that the dog was stolen.

“Anybody would take that dog,” the mother said. “If she tied the dog, she didn’t leave the dog to die.”

A security guard at the 520-unit complex told the Star-Ledger that the dog had been seen tied to a railing with a leather leash, and had been the subject of resident complaints for more than a month.

“It would whimper, and it would yelp when you would come up to it,” Ortman said.

A custodian found Patrick on March 16, inside a trash bag at the bottom of a 22-story garbage chute.

Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez kept Curtis’ bail at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash and forbid her to have contact with pets. If convicted, she faces 18 months in prison, a $3,000 fine and community service.

Patrick has been recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, where he has gained two pounds since being found.

New York City Council bans tethering

The New York City Council yesterday voted to make tethering a dog or other animal for more than three hours a crime, punishable by fines and, for repeat offenders, a possible jail sentence.

First-time violators would receive a written warning or a fine of up to $250, if the animal is injured. A repeat offender could face a $500 fine and up to three months in prison, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Tethering an animal for an extended period of time is cruel and unusual,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “This bill will not only prevent this type of unnecessary cruelty, but also increase public safety for pedestrians throughout the City.”

The council voted 47-1 in favor of the bill, which prohibits leaving an animal tied up for more than three consecutive hours in any continuous 12-hour period.

The council also approved an increase in the cost of  annual license for dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered, raising the fee to $34 from $11.50.

Revenue generated from the incnrease will be used to subsidize animal population control programs.

Parole denied after dog attends hearing

Louis then

Louis now

An Alabama state board denied parole this week to a man convicted of spraying a dog with lighter fluid, setting him on fire and beating him with a shovel.

The star witness at the hearing? The victim himself — Louis Vuitton, an 8-year-old pit bull who, now in the care of a local couple that adopted him, still bears burn scars over much of his body. The dog was led into the hearing room, consenting to being petted along the way.

The board voted 3-0 to deny early release to 23-year-old Juan Daniels of Montgomery, who was sentenced in 2009 to nine years and six months in prison, according to the Associated Press. The sentence was a record in Alabama in an animal cruelty case.

It’s believed to have been the first appearance by a dog at an Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles hearing. “I don’t recall every having one here before,” said Cynthia Dillard, the board’s executive director.

Daniels’ family and supporters aruged that he had been sentenced far more harshly than criminals who harm human beings.

After the September 2007 attack on the dog, the Montgomery Humane Society got as many as 50 calls a day about the case, some from other countries.

The dog was named “Louis Vuitton,” in honor of another abused dog, named “Gucci,” whose torture case in Mobile in 1994 led to passage of “Gucci’s law,” which made animal cruelty a felony in Alabama.

More than 60 law enforcement officers, animal rights advocates and other supporters of Louis crowded into the hearing, where Montgomery County District Attrney Ellen Brooks asked parole board members to make Daniels serve his entire sentence.

She said he tortured the dog, which belonged to his mother, because he was angry at her for not letting him use the car.

Daniels will be eligible for another parole hearing in July 2012.

Is 3-year sentence justice for Buddy?

040110_Buddy_the_dog_2_680x480Steven Clay Romero, the man who dragged a dog named Buddy to his death at the Colorado National Monument, received the maximum sentence of three years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Romero, 38, of Grand Junction, will spend three years in federal prison, followed by 12 months of supervised parole for aggravated animal cruelty in the dog’s death Dec. 30, 2009, the Montrose Press reported.

He also was fined $500 and ordered to pay $343 in restitution to Buddy’s owners.

The dog, reported stolen from the back of a pickup truck in Delta, Colorado, was found with a rope tied around his neck at the monument. Surveillance photos and marks in the snow indicated Buddy had been dragged behind a pickup truck while still alive.

Romero’s sister, Melissa Lockhart, 32, is charged as an accessory after the fact to aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly attempting to cover up Buddy’s death. Conviction could bring up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A theft complaint filed against her for stealing the dog was dismissed June 10, court records show.

The torture and killing of Buddy triggered a Facebook site, Demand Justice For Buddy, which as of Friday had 267,713 members.

Susie’s Law signed in North Carolina

Susie, an 8-week-old puppy when she was tortured, burned and left to die in Greensboro last summer, yesterday became the first dog to sign a piece of legislation in North Carolina — one aimed at protecting her kind.

Gov. Bev Perdue signed the animal cruelty prevention bill known as Susie’s Law. Susie, a pit bull mix wearing pearls and pink nail polish for the occasion, then put her paw print on the bill.

“Today, we make our homes better and our streets safer for the people who inhabit this state,” said Perdue. “No matter if they have two legs or four legs.”

It was about a year ago when Susie was tortured, set on fire and left for dead in Greensboro. Her ears were singed off and she was covered in maggots by the time she was found, about two weeks after the beating, which left her with missing teeth and a broken jaw, according to the Greensboro News & Record.

Lashawn Whitehead, 21, of Greensboro, was convicted and sentenced to probation.

Susie’s new owner, Donna Lawrence, was one of the forces behind the legislation, wanting to make sure that anyone who tortured a dog in the future would have to pay with jail time.

Under the new law, any malicious abuse, torture, or killing of animals becomes a Class H felony, punishable by up to 10 months in jail.

“This law will also protect, I believe, North Carolina’s people,” said Perdue. “The data is pretty clear. For those of you who don’t know the data, people who are actually cruel and do this kind of stuff to animals, are five times more likely to do this kind of thing to a human being.”

Perdue’s dog’s Dosie and Zipper also looked on as the bill became law.

(Photo: Lynn Hey / Greensboro News & Record)

Owner gets probation for tossing out dog

One year’s probation is all the sentence a judge deemed proper for a woman who threw her 18-month-old dog in the garbage, leading to him almost being crushed in a trash truck.

The dog, named Tommy, has had an extension cord wrapped around his neck since he was a puppy. His owner reportedly wrapped the cord around his neck because he kept breaking lose from his chain. Eventually it became embedded in his skin.

Prosecutors say 34-year-old Tracia Johnson of Cahokia, tossed the dog in the trash because she thought he was dead, according to KSDK in St. Louis. A garbage man found him and he was nursed back to health at Hope Animal Rescue.

Wednesday, Johnson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty and was sentenced to one year probation, 250 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Prosecutors had asked for 60 days in jail.

“From my perspective I really would have liked to see her get the sixty days in jail to think about it,” says Jackie Spiker with Hope Animal Rescue. “I just think in order to change the way things are we have to start holding people accountable.”

Tommy made a full recovery and now lives with new owners, who keep a scarf around his neck to hide his scars.

Maryland man gets 4-month sentence for throwing teacup Chihuahua off bridge

A Maryland man who threw a  teacup Chihuahua off a bridge was sentenced in Frederick, Maryland to four months in jail.

The dog, named Zoey, was never found after the incident and was presumed to have been killed.

David Beers, 35, was sentenced yesterday to  a three-year year term, but the judge suspended all but four months of it and ordered the unemployed cell tower technician to pay a $1,000 fine, perform 300 hours of community service and make restitution of $318 to the dog’s owners, Timothy and Caisha Wantz.

Beers apologized for stealing the dog in a fit of anger after the Wantzes ordered him off their property in rural Jefferson last year, according to the Associated Press. Beers had pulled into their driveway to make a cell phone call.

Beers put the dog in his car and threw it off a bridge and into a creek on the way home. He pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty.

Eckhart gets sentence of at least six months

Almost Heaven Kennel owner Derbe Eckhart will spend six months to nearly two years in prison for animal cruelty.

According to an Associated Press report, Eckhart wept as he was sentenced Tuesday in Lehigh County Court in Pennsylvania.

Eckhart was charged with cruelty after a 2008 raid of his kennel by animal welfare workers and the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

Prosecutors said animals found at the kennel suffered from severe, painful matting and a variety of skin, eye and upper respiratory ailments.

Eckart was convicted in March on two animal cruelty charges but the jury acquitted him on four other counts.

Dachshund killer gets 1/6th of max sentence

An email campaign, aimed at ensuring dachshund killer Dudley Ramsay receive a full two-year sentence for fatally bashing his dog against a bathtub, failed to produce the intended result.

Ramsay was sentenced to just four months in prison on Friday by New York Judge Michael Gary.

Ramsay, of Fort Greene, was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty in March for disciplining the 5-month-old dog, named Junior, by smashing him against a bathtub, causing six fractured ribs and damage to the pup’s lungs and liver, according to The Brooklyn Paper. Then he waited several hours before taking the dog to a veterinary hospital, where he died.

Syzmanski

An email campaign was launched after Ramsay’s conviction by Mike Szymanski, of Greenwood Heights, who owns three dachshunds and writes the Dachshund Examiner for Examiner.com.

“This is a tragedy,” said Szymanski, who noted Ramsay had freely admitted by then to killing another dachshund earlier. The sentence, he said, “is a fraction of what Ramsay certainly deserves. It was a slap on the wrist and showed that the judge didn’t care.”

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office said it received over 100 emails from pet owners across the country, demanding that Ramsay gets the maximum sentence. Deputy District Attorney Carol Moran pushed for the maximum sentence, the spokesman said, but the sentencing decision rested with the judge.

“People have to realize that Dachshund lovers can be way more radical than the Tea Party if we find out than an injustice has been done,” Szymanski said. “This is something that could cost this judge his office.”