The Newark, NJ woman whose alleged abuse of a Pit Bull named Patrick made this resilient dog into a national celebrity is in the news again.
Kisha Curtis, who pleaded not guilty last year to four charges of animal cruelty after her dog was discovered nearly dead of starvation at the foot of a 22-story trash chute, appeared in court last Wednesday after being threatened with arrest for having missed a court appearance the previous day.
Curtis is now applying for a pretrial intervention program. Its completion “would eventually wipe the criminal charge from her record. She has previously rejected the state’s plea offer that calls for up to 18 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and 30 days’ community service,” reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
This is sparking outrage, as has nearly every other aspect of a drama that began on March 16, 2011, when Patrick was found at the foot of the chute in shocking condition. Weighing only 19 pounds, the year-old dog could not walk or lift his head and had seemingly not eaten in months.
The news went viral. As Patrick began his remarkable road to recovery, thousands of letters and gifts — treats, toys, clothes, cash — poured in from all over the world. As the new face for anti-animal-abuse activism, the plucky pittie inspired “The Patrick Movement,” whose branches in many states hold rallies and other events.
Arrested just over a week after Patrick was found, Curtis was charged with with “torture and torment of a living creature,” according to Fox News, which added that the 550-unit Garden Spires apartment building where Curtis lived is “notorious for drug trade and other crimes.”
Curtis denied having thrown the dog down the chute, but admitted having abandoned and starved Patrick, leaving him tied to a railing at the Garden Spires. She pleaded not guilty to the charges in May 2011.
As support for Patrick has soared, so has loathing for Curtis.
“Hopefully she’s found in a dumpster, wrapped in a plastic bag, at the bottom of a trash chute where she belongs. This disgusting mutant needs to be put to sleep,” reads a typical comment on a Star-Ledger article about the alleged abuser, who on a now-deleted Facebook page claims to be a Duke University student and former employee of a porn company.
Protests have accompanied all of her court dates, as many feel the state legal system is being too easy on Curtis and is moving too slowly — in hopes, some say, that the public will lose interest in this case.
That hardly seems likely. Patrick’s transformation from sad starveling to healthy hero has spawned not only good wishes, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages but also money-seeking scams and a bitter custody battle.
When Curtis appeared in court on January 20 to reject the plea offer, she was visibly pregnant. It’s impossible not to ask: If Patrick is an example of how Curtis treats animals, how will she treat her own child?