In March 2011, Patrick, a 1 year-old, male pitbull was starved, placed in a plastic bag and thrown down a garbage chute from the 19th floor of a Newark apartment complex and found by a custodian who contacted an Animal Control Officer (Arthur Skinner) from Associated Humane Society. The dog was taken to Garden State Veterinary Specialists in critical condition weighing only 19 lbs, and was given a poor chance of survival. Through diligent work by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA), Kisha Curtis was found to be the owner of the dog, named Patrick by Garden State Veterinary Specialist due to being found a day before St. Patrick's day. Once it was determined that Patrick would survive, he was given temporary custody to Patricia Smillie-Scavelli (Administrator of Garden State Veterinary Specialists) and Dr. Thomas Scavelli, DVM (owner of Garden State Veterinary Specialists). This is where the long custody battle began between Associated Humane Society, the City of Newark and the Scavelli family, as well as the trial of Kisha Curtis for animal cruelty. Associated Humane Society (AHS) accused the Scavelli's of trying to use Patrick to bring fame to the hospital while AHS solicited donations for its' shelter in the name of Patrick. (Dr. Scavelli is a well-know orthopedic surgeon in New Jersey; Patrick's adoption would not have changed Dr. Scavelli's reputation.) Many groups profitted from Patrick's cause by selling items with Patrick's picture on them.
On August 29, 2013, Kisha Curtis was sentenced to 18 months probation and to pay a $2,000 fine to the Associated Humane Society to pay for the expenses of the NJSPCA, after pleading guilty to fourth-degree animal cruelty in July. Judge Joseph Cassini III (Superior Court in Newark) also required that Curtis pass her high school equivalency exam. The fourth degree charge of animal cruelty carries a maximum of 18-month jail sentence but Judge Joseph Cassini did not feel that Curtis should be sentenced to a jail term due to this being a first offense and actually compared this crime to the trial of a person accused of murdering a Newark Police officer. Curtis did not admit to placing Patrick in the trash chute but was held responsible for the abuse that occurred when Curtis left Patrick tied to a railing outside of the building with no food or water. Initially Curtis was given a plea deal of a pre-trial program which would have kept her record clean.
From this case, Patrick's Law (S1303) (signed 3 weeks ago by Governor Chris Christie) came into existence which toughens the charges in animal cruelty cases moving the former charge of animal cruelty from a disorderly person's offense to a fourth degree crime. Fines were increased from $1,000 for a first offense to $3,000 and between $3,000 to $5000 for a second offense.A fundraiser was held in the summer of 2011 by Newark Mayor Cory Booker to build a no-kill animal shelter; the building of the shelter is scheduled for this fall. Judge Cassini also ruled that permanent custody was to be given to Dr. Scavelli, DVM and his family. Patrick now weighs 55 lbs. and is a happy, healty dog.
To celebrate the permanent adoption of Patrick by the Scavelli family, Howard Epstein, co-host of the Ask Sue, show will be holding a Go Green In Honor Of the Patrick Scavelli Family to be held September 13-15. Epstein was inspired by Patrick and he started the first Go Green Event for Patrick in May 2011. Forty-four people attended. This year's event already has over 3,200 and is still growing. Everyone is asked to wear green this weekend in honor of Patrick.
Additional photos and videos of Patrick can be seen at these websites:
1. GSVS Patrick's Forever Home, Facebook page.
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