On the night before St. Patrick’s Day in 2011, an emaciated Pit Bull was found stuffed inside a trash bag in a New Jersey apartment garbage chute, barely alive. The starving pup was named Patrick in honor of the day he was found and the miracle that he survived through the night at an animal hospital.
His case outraged animal lovers around the world and has inspired “Patrick’s Law,” which would upgrade penalties for animal abusers in New Jersey. The bill is sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Union).
“This bill, designated as ‘Patrick’s Law,’ increases to crimes of the fourth degree, the offenses of depriving an animal of necessary sustenance, or abusing an animal, and it increases the grade of these offenses to crimes of the third degree if the animal dies as a result of these acts,” the bill states. “The civil penalty for these offenses would also be increased under the bill to a fine of $1,000 to $3,000 for a first offense, and $3,000 to $5,000 for a second or subsequent offense.”
“Patrick’s Law” was unanimously approved yesterday by the New Jersey Senate Economic Growth Committee, NJ.com reports.
Patrick’s former owner, Kisha Curtis, admitted she left her dog tied to a stairwell in her apartment building for a week while she vacationed in Atlantic City, but denied throwing him down the trash chute.
Curtis pleaded not guilty to charges of fourth-degree cruelty to animals. She has refused the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office repeated offers of 18 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and 30 days of community service in exchange for pleading guilty, according to NJ.com.
Newark Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini III is scheduled to announce his decision on the case on Oct. 22.
The good news is that Patrick recovered and is now happily living with Patricia Smillie-Scavelli, an administrator at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, where he was a patient during the months after he was found.
The next steps in Patrick’s Law becoming enacted are for the bill to pass the full Senate and then the Assembly.