The woman who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in the case of Patrick -- the pit bull who made a miraculous recovery after he was starved, stuffed in a trash bag and tossed down a garbage chute -- is not going to prison.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini on Thursday sentenced Kisha Curtis to 18 months probation and said she was unlikely to do the same thing again.
“Miss Curtis to a large extent has been tried in the court of public opinion,” Cassini said. “She’s been portrayed as some type of monster to have done what she did to Patrick…I think we need to sort of take a step back and look at this globally.”
The judge also pointed out that the dog survived and the case led to tougher penalties for animal cruelty.
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Earlier this month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law” to increase animal cruelty penalties. Under the new law, failing to provide an animal with food, water or other necessities would be a fourth degree crime, up from a disorderly person’s offense. If the dog dies as a result of the treatment, it would be upped to a third degree crime.
Curtis pleaded guilty last month to fourth degree animal cruelty. The emaciated dog was found near death in 2011 in a plastic bag at the bottom of a trash chute in Curtis' Newark, N.J. apartment building.
The jowly pooch was nicknamed Patrick because he was rescued just before St. Patrick's Day and nursed back to health at an animal hospital. He has since thrived in recovery, and his story has gained nationwide attention. The dog also attracted thousands of online followers.
Thursday’s ruling sparked outrage among the pooch’s 272,000 Facebook followers. About 700 comments were posted to “The Patrick Miracle” page expressing everything from anger to disbelief.
“Totally disgraceful...I’m appalled by his heartless attitude and disregard for the value of a life. It really was nothing short of a miracle that Patrick survived,” wrote Elaine Adams.
“Fuming! The whole justice system for animal cruelty is not severe enough with penalties dished out saying offenders should not own an animal for 3 years etc are too soft. Animals can not tell you they are abused or escape their home. Living in fear every second of their life. The favour should be returned in sentences!” wrote Justin Broomhead.
“Judge Cassini is lucky I don't live in NJ because come election time I would certainly be reminding the voters that Judge Cassini feels animal abuse is not serious and holding up a sign with Jeff Dahmer's picture on it,” wrote Lori May.
Patrick has been living with a foster family, who told NBC 4 New York last year that he was "doing wonderful."
"He's just a normal dog," said Patricia Smillie-Scavelli.