In Salt Lake City (UT), Michael Ray Howard was convicted for killing 14 puppies, and received a sentence of 13 years handed down by Judge Roger Dutson.
In December a bag containing 14 puppies was found in a dumpster outside a Salt Lake City, UT, Hancock Fabric store. Only one one of the puppies survived and has since been adopted by Rita Woodward, an employee of Hancock Fabrics and one of the women who found the puppies.
It is high time that the courts take animal abuse seriously and that prosecutors are able to seek charges that are suitable for the crime.
He was charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty and one third-degree felony. Initially, Howard pleaded not guilty even though he did admit he stuffed the tiny, 3-5 week old Jack Russell mix puppies, in a heavy trash bag to suffocate, left them outside overnight and the next day figuring he’d accomplished killing them all, threw the bag of puppies in a Riverdale dumpster. He changed his plea to guilty the following day.
Prosecutors were able to use a new law, Henry’s Law, that was passed earlier in the year to charge him with a felony.
Prosecutors said the crime was committed with “extreme depravity” and noted it was a touchstone for the passage of Henry’s Law, which increased the penalty for extreme cases of animal cruelty to a felony. That bill was passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
While Judge Dutson did issue the sentence to run concurrently, I do applaud him for handing out the maximum sentence on the aggravated animal cruelty charge.
Howard, also convicted of illegal possession of a controlled substance and an admitted methamphetamine user/addict was sentenced to serve to serve 13 years in prison for the class A misdemeanor counts of aggravated animal cruelty, six months in prison for a class B misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, and up to five years in prison for the drug charge. All sentence will run together which in reality means about a 5 year sentence and probably even less time will actually be served.
Let’s hope, at the earliest, we don’t see Michael Ray Howard on the street until 2013.