A 32-year-old Clearwater, Florida woman accused of tying a rubber band around the snout of a 9-month-old puppy for days pleaded not guilty in her first court appearance Monday.
The woman faces a charge of first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty. A pretrial hearing was apparently set for March 26.
The puppy, a Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix, was taken from the woman’s home on Dec. 13 after investigators with SPCA Tampa Bay allegedly found his mouth clamped shut with a rubber band. The rubber band apparently kept the dog from eating and allegedly ripped through the skin and muscle around his muzzle. Officials claim the band tore a large hole through the top of the dog’s snout, where the continuous force ate away at weaker bones.
According to the SPCA, when an investigator pointed out the rubber band wrapped around the dog’s face, the woman apparently looked unconcerned. She allegedly told the investigator she would seek a veterinarian to treat the dog’s wounds. Officials claim the woman never sought medical treatment for the dog.
The dog has since been adopted by a Largo family.
Essentially, there are two types of animal cruelty – intentional cruelty and negligent cruelty. Intentionally inflicting cruel behavior to animals is viewed as violent and calculated animal abuse that can include torturing, beating, poisoning, mutilating, inhumanely confining or unnecessarily killing an animal. Negligent cruelty to animals is usually classified as failing to provide an animal with adequate care. This includes failing to treat a pet’s wounds or illnesses as well as not providing food, water, sanitary living conditions and suitable shelter.
The state of Florida treats animal cruelty charges as serious crimes and aggressively prosecutes these cases. Animal cruelty charges in Florida can vary from civil infractions to felonies. If convicted of an animal cruelty charge, you could be facing fines ranging from $50 to $10,000 and potentially be subjected to jail time. If the animal cruelty charge you are accused of is found to be deliberate abuse, you could face a felony conviction punishable by five years in prison.
If you have been arrested for animal cruelty in the state of Florida, contact the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Offices of Whittel & Melton, LLC online or call our Pinellas County office at 727-847-2299 or dial us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).