A judge in Painesville, Ohio has had enough with people who harm, neglect, or abuse animals and don’t face any real consequences.
Judge Michael Cicconetti was so fed up with seeing abusers get off with light punishments that he decided to get creative with his sentencing, hoping it would act as a deterrent and teach those convicted of crimes against animals a very valuable lesson.
Judge Mike, as he’s known in town, has always been an animal lover. His first dog Herman was a Dachshund-mix that quickly became his best childhood friend.
He now has a 10-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog named Kasey.
While his love of animals is personal, his responsibility to the law means he still has to act within the parameters of the justice system – he can’t give out cruel or unusual punishments to match the crimes.
And while they’re unorthodox, Judge Mike’s sentences aren’t putting anyone in danger – but that doesn’t mean convicted criminals “can’t deal with a little discomfort and embarrassment.”
For example, one woman faced Judge Mike after her dog was found living in intolerably filthy conditions.
He thought it might teach her a lesson to spend a day knowing what it was like to be surrounded by filth, so he sentenced her to spend the day at the local dump.
“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,” he said.
While many have lauded the decision, it’s important to be humane – otherwise, we’re no better than the criminals themselves. Judge Mike treads a fine line with his sentences.
In another case, a woman had abandoned 35 kittens in the woods. The judge sentenced her to spend a night in the cold woods by herself – in addition to jail time and a fine.
“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?”
Again, a controversial decision, though we’re often afraid of the woods for no reason other than the possibility that something bad will happen to us.
Judge Mike hopes that his headline-making sentences create awareness about animal abuse and its consequences – not only for the abusers but for the general public.
He wants people to know it’s a crime to harm and neglect animals and to think twice about doing anything cruel.
The judge said that he never made a conscious decision to start doling out creative sentences, but that he did so after noticing a trend of repeat offenders. Animal abusers clearly weren’t being deterred from re-offending so he wanted to find a way to impress upon them just how much harm they were doing and discourage them from any future bad behavior.
Judge Mike says that the waits until all the details of the case are heard before making any final decisions a sentence.
Ultimately, Cicconetti hopes that mental evaluations will soon be required for animal-related crimes. It’s clear that anyone who would hard a vulnerable creature has some issues that need to be sorted out by a professional.
He would also like to see an animal abuse registry – similar to a sex offender registry – so that neighbors and shelters can be aware of past offenders and protect their nearby pets.
Not convinced this is the right way to go? Scroll down below to hear his explanation in his own words.
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