The advocacy community was outraged to hear of the news regarding the final judgement against 29-year-old Kisha Curtis, the woman who had been charged with the starvation and neglect of an innocent Pit Bull named Patrick. After Patrick had been starved to the point of near death, he was heartlessly thrown down an apartment garbage chute in early 2011. Numerous news agencies including News 12 New Jersey published the details of the final sentence of only 18 months of probation.
Judge Joseph Cassini acknowledged that he had received hundreds of letters asking that he impose the maximum possible penalties against Curtis. However, he stated that he feels she has made great strides to turn her life around, felt she would never do anything like this in the future, and he felt she should be allowed to stay at home with her children. She will have to pay fines of close to $2000 to offset the cost of his medical care at the Jew Jersey ASPCA where he was initially stabilized, before being transferred to a veterinary hospital in Trinity Falls, NJ.
Patrick became the poster dog for animal cruelty and neglect when he was discovered by a worker at the bottom of the trash chute in the apartment building. He was literally skin draped over bones, and barely alive. But, thanks to the wonderful and dedicated efforts of veterinary medical professionals and his eventual foster family, Patrick slowly regained weight, strength, and showed the world his underlying beautiful spirit, and will to live.
Patrick's case sparked a huge following on social media, with a Facebook page, "The Patrick Miracle", which currently has 272,000 followers. Thanks to sweet Patrick, awareness about the horrors inflicted on innocent animals came into the mainstream. Advocates followed his progress, with elation as it became clear he would not only survive, but thrive. He has shown the world the gentle and forgiving nature that animals possess, because, even after having suffered so much pain in his short lifetime, he showed only love and affection towards his caregivers.
Petitions had been circulating and letters written to the court, begging that Curtis be given the maximum possible penalties under the law for this horrific crime. However, as seems to happen far too often in cases of animal abuse, rather than being sentenced to the 18 months in prison she could have received, the judge only handed down a sentence of 18 months of probation. It is difficult to comprehend how anyone could be sentenced to only probation after such a horrific act of cruelty against another living being. Sadly, most animal cruelty laws are written with the mindset that animals are mere property, rather than sentient beings, with very light penalties imposed in most cases.
Patrick's case did thankfully prompt changes in the laws regarding animal cruelty and neglect in that state, with the passage of "Patrick's Law", which was signed by Governor Chris Christie on August 7, 2013. This law increases the degree of the crimes with the associated prison terms that apply to them, as well as increases the amount of fines persons committing these crimes would have to pay.
Patrick has been residing with Patricia Smillie-Scavelli and her family. He has flourished under their love, adoration, and tender care, and today is a healthy and happy dog. The transformation from the literal skeleton of 19 pounds when he was found in 2011, to the plump and robust 51 pounds that he is today, is a direct reflection of the amazing care Patrick has received. His life will be full of only love from now on, and he will never again know another day of hunger, neglect, or pain.
With the legal issues finally done, Patrick's family can now concentrate on living life to the fullest, and hopefully never having to look back at that awful and dark time when he was clinging to life by a tiny thread. It is thanks to Patrick that the laws were changed, and while all advocates hope that one day laws are written that will truly hand down harsh and severe punishments against animal abusers, at least this is a first big step.
Advocates need to continue to speak up and speak out about this issue, asking their own lawmakers to review and change existing animal abuse laws in their own states, with punishments that are a true deterrent to these acts of horror against helpless and innocent animals.
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