Those who work and volunteer in animal rescue have seen the worst that humans can do to animals.
Many times their unwavering dedication falters just a bit when person after person has gotten off with a slap on the wrist from a judge that sees the crime as simply “damaging private property” instead of doing harm to a living breathing creature that has rights.
Animals around the country breathed a big sigh of relief when the FBI, backed up by the National Sheriff’s Association, recently made animal abuse a Class A felony. That ranks it up there with homicide, assault and arson.
That means stiffer penalties and a major blotch on your record. But, it wasn’t enough for one judge just to have the law finally behind him when it comes to doling out punishment for animal abusers.
He was already giving the harshest sentences possible for animal related crimes. But, it still wasn’t enough.
The same people kept coming back in front of him for similar crimes. He wanted to be sure that anyone who came before his bench for abusing an animal learned their lesson.
And so Michael Cicconetti became a warrior for the animals of Ohio whose abusers came before him for sentencing. Judge Mike, as he’s known locally, is not only a dedicated judge, but he’s also a dedicated pet owner.
It’s no wonder his dog Kasey is always wearing a smile. His dad is known in animal circles as Super Judge!
Judge Mike has become a legend for his creative sentencing. When animal abusers realize they will soon be standing before Cicconetti to learn their fate, they know their number is up.
Among his most famous sentences is the one for a woman who was being sentenced after being found guilty for forcing her dog to live in filth. He didn’t go with the mandatory jail times and a fine, he stepped it up a notch.
He realized that jail wasn’t a big enough threat. And fines were only a temporary inconvenience. So, he went for the kill shot.
“I want you to go down to the county dump, to the landfill, and I want them to find the stinkiest, smelliest, God-awful odor place they can find in that dump and I want you to sit there for eight hours tomorrow, to think about what you did to that dog while you smell the odor. If you puke, you puke.”
Eight hours sitting in filth. If you puke, you puke. Now those are words of justice!
And those weren’t his only golden words. He’s come up with more and more creative punishments to fit the crimes of those that come before him.
Like the woman who abandoned 35 kittens in the woods of two different parks. She had to spend a night alone in the snowy wilderness (along with jail time and a fine). He told her:
How would you like to be dumped off at a metro park late at night, spend the night listening to the coyotes … listening to the raccoons around you in the dark night, and sit out there in the cold not knowing where you’re going to get your next meal, not knowing when you are going to be rescued?
Once Judge Mike found out that Michelle Murray had not told the truth about where the kittens came from things got real. She had first said they weren’t hers; all just came up to her house and the Humane Society turned them away.
The Humane Society said that wasn’t true. Collars on some of the kittens were traced back to Murray when forest rangers found the kittens abandoned in the park.
All were very sick, and nine succumbed to their illness. That added news made Judge Mike hopping mad.
So, Judge Mike gave Murray a choice of 90 days in jail for domestic animal abandonment or 14 days in jail, 15 days under house arrest, a $3,200 donation to the Humane Society a $500 donation to the park rangers who found the kittens and one night alone in the woods.
She chose the latter. So, she was dropped off by a park ranger at a remote location in the woods. And she could only take with her exactly what she left the kittens with.
No food, water, gear, or means of entertainment – only the clothes she was wearing. Unlike the kittens, she was able to build a fire, due to freezing November temperatures. (A judge cannot legally put someone in danger no matter how heinous their crime.)
We can only hope that this mother learned something during those long, cold, lonely hours in the dark. Judge Mike hopes he doesn’t see her again in his courtroom. Heaven help her if he does!
The judge’s unusual punishments are reserved for a small percentage of first-time offenders and always come with an alternative sentence…usually jail time, community service, fines, or some combination.
The judge maintains that he has seen very few repeat offenders since he began handing out his unorthodox punishments in the mid-1990s.
But, he doesn’t always get creative with his sentencing. Sometimes he realizes that some people simply can’t be rehabilitated when they’ve come before him with repeat offenses.
His only recourse at that point is to throw the book at them and hope that they learn something in prison. Such was the case when Michael Sutton came before his bench.
Sutton had been found guilty of throwing a three-month-old puppy off a balcony; then he put him into a Dumpster compactor to die. The puppy’s crime? He had a toilet accident on Sutton’s bed.
Judge Mike took a few minutes reading the verdict before he narrowed his eyes and said to Sutton:
“You are just vicious. You are revolting. You are cruel. You are inhuman, what you did here. Oh, would I like to put you in a Dumpster? Oh, yeah. I would love to do that.”
Unfortunately, the law kept Judge Mike from doing just that. So, he gave Sutton six months in jail and five years probation. He added, “And you are never ever to own another animal.”
We just wish every state and every county had a Judge Mike on the bench to dole out punishments befitting the crime.
Source: I Heart Dogs