Animal cruelty charges, do they ever mean anything? That was a question posed to me on the air just this past week on WGN radio. He’s an answer: Increasingly, YES.
Here’s an example: Nick Patterson, 30, of Alex City, AL was sentenced in March to 99 years in prison for animal cruelty charges. Patterson negotiated a plea deal with the prosecution and pleaded guilty on nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty and three counts of fraud.
The guy starved and neglected purebred Collies on his grandparents’ property. Police found the remains of six Collies on the property and found 14 malnourished dogs in outdoor enclosures that were given dirty rain water to drink and were fed sporadically. Ten years ago, a slap on the wrist. Today, at least in this instance, it’s a crime taken nearly as seriously as child abuse.
To try and flee from police, Patterson hit the road, and that’s when he reportedly fraudulently used credit cards and stolen checks in order to keep going. Patterson eventually turned himself in to authorities in Council Bluffs, IA last July.
Assistant District Attorney Damon Lewis negotiated the plea deal and hopes it will “send a message” to other residents, if you harm a child or animal you will go to prison. Patterson was sentenced 10 years each for the nine abuse accounts and three years each for the fraud charges. The sentences will run concurrently. At some point, he could be let out on good behavior – many years from now. And if that happens, he will never be allowed to own an animal.