The law exists to protect freedoms and rights. What most people forget is that the law not only protects human rights, but also serves to protect animal rights! That is why it is disheartening to listen to stories of animal abuse, especially when bullies escape without any form of punishment. But one judge concluded that in his hometown, Painesville, Ohio, there would be none of that.
Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconeti was tired of animal abusers who had little or no punishment. Because punishments are imposed to encourage and enforce lawful behavior, he gives unusual sentences to teach bullies 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 mix of dachshunds, named Herman. From there, his love for animals grew. Now, he has a 10 year old Bernese mountain dog named Kasey.
As a distinguished member of the legal profession, Judge Cicconeti does not impose dangerous or illegal penalties. But it is not beyond giving a little discomfort and discomfort to offenders as well.
Take this case where one woman left 35 kittens in the woods. To help the offender understand the gravity of her actions, the judge sentenced her to spend the night alone in the woods. During the hearing, he told her, “How would you like to be thrown into the subway park late at night, spend the night listening to coyotes … listening to raccoons around you on a dark night and sitting there in the cold not knowing where 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 to be living in the dirt. Judge Cicconeti let her try her own medicine, sentencing her to spend one day in a dirty, 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 came into force that makes the abuse of an animal companion a criminal offense. This law, called Goddard’s law, was a huge step for animal rights advocates. In addition to punishing the perpetrator, Judge Cicconeti hopes his valuable headline sentences have broadened awareness of the crime of animal abuse and its consequences.
This animal-loving judge never planned to utter these unusual sentences. He had only just begun to create them when he noticed that prison was not effective in making bullies realize the gravity of their crimes. He therefore decided to apply an unconventional method to force these offenders to deviate from the wrong path. The judge always makes sure that the sentences he imposes correspond to the circumstances of the crimes committed. He waits until all the details of the case are heard, before carefully crafting sentences.
Advocating for long-term solutions to this problem, Judge Cicconeti stressed 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 assessments of those responsible for such crimes will be made. Like the existence of a register for sex offenders, there should be a register for animal abusers. This allows shelters to check on potential adopters.
We may not have the influence and power of Judge Cicconeti, but we can still influence the rights of our furry friends in small ways. If we want to stand up for our beloved animals, we can start spreading awareness and reporting abusers in our own neighborhood!