The law exists to protect liberties and rights. What most people forget is that the law not only protects human rights, but it also serves to protect animal rights. That’s why it’s disheartening to hear stories of animal abuse, especially when the abusers get away without any form of punishment. But one judge decided that there won’t be any of that in his city, Painesville, Ohio.
Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconeti was tired of animal abusers having little to no punishment. Since sentences are made to encourage and enforce lawful behavior, he gives out unusual sentences to teach abusers valuable lessons they will never forget.
Judge Cicconeti’s advocacy for animal rights is rooted from his love for animals. He fell in love with animals when he got his first dog, a Dachshund mix named Herman. From there, his love for animals grew. Now, he has a ten year old Bernese mountain dog named Kasey.
As an upstanding member of the legal profession, judge Cicconeti doesn’t give out dangerous or unlawful punishments. But he isn’t beyond giving offenders a little discomfort and embarrassment either.
Take this one case where one woman abandoned 35 kittens in the woods. To help the offender realize the gravity of her actions, the judge sentenced her to spend a night in the woods by herself. During the hearing, he told her “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?”
In another case, a woman was found guilty after her dog was found living in total filth. Judge Cicconeti let her have a taste of her own medicine, sentencing her to spend a day at a filthy, smelly local dump. The judge said at the hearing, “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.”
Last September, a law that makes the abuse to an animal companion a felony, went into effect. This law, called the Goddard’s law, was a huge step for animal rights advocates. Other than punishing offenders, Judge Cicconeti hopes that his headline-worthy sentences spread awareness about the crime of animal abuse and its consequences.
This animal loving judge never planned on making these unusual sentences. He just started creating them when he noticed that jail time wasn’t effective in making abusers realize the gravity of their crimes. So he decided to take on an unconventional method of making these offenders turn from their ways. The judge always makes sure that the sentences he gives out are fit for the crimes that were committed. He waits until all the details of the case are heard before he carefully doles out sentences.
Advocating for long term solutions to this problem, Judge Cicconeti raised the need for education to be available to offenders. He told iHeartDogs that if drunk drivers and child neglecters take mandatory courses as part of their sentences, animal abusers should too. The judge also hopes that mandatory mental evaluations will be made for those responsible for these sort of crimes. Like having a registry for sex offenders, there should also be a registry for animal abusers. This allows shelters to verify potential adopters.
We may not have the influence and power of Judge Cicconeti, but we can still make an impact for our furry friends’ rights in small ways. If we want to advocate for our beloved companions, we can start with spreading awareness and reporting abusers within our very own neighborhood.