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May 29, 2008

A max sentence driven by a concern for (four-legged) victims

I always wonder if the various folks who debate victims' rights at sentencing change their views when the victims are animals rather than people.  In any event, this local story, headlined "Animal abuse draws prison: Glen Burnie woman sentenced to 3 years for mistreating dogs," highlights that at least one state judge is quite attentive to four-legged victims at sentencing. Here are details:

Kelly Lynn Schreck, the woman behind what an Anne Arundel County judge called yesterday the worst animal abuse case he had ever seen, had simply planned to breed Great Danes. But she struggled to care for her growing collection of dogs amid increasing marital problems, her lawyer said yesterday in county Circuit Court, which was borne out by neighbors' complaints and animal control officers' grisly discovery in her Glen Burnie home: five dead, emaciated dogs and four others who were starving in cages, their bones protruding.

"She needs to be in her own cage for a period of time," prosecutor Kimberly DiPietro said. "At least, she'll know she'll get fed."

Judge Paul A. Hackner sentenced Schreck, 28, to three years in prison and three years' probation, the maximum for two counts of the felony charge of animal mutilation and well above sentencing guidelines of probation to three months in jail. In addition, he banned her from owning pets for five years and ordered her to repay the county almost $8,000 in veterinary fees.

Hackner rejected her lawyer's defense that she was too mentally ill to realize the consequences of her neglect, calling her "too arrogant and too proud to say she needed help.  This is not a marginal case....  She's off gallivanting when these dogs are dying.  It's really a horrible case."

I do not think I have ever heard of a ban on owning pets as a part of a criminal sentence, but I suppose it makes some sense in this setting.  But does this mean Schreck might have to go back to jail if she brings a goldfish home while serving probation?

May 29, 2008 at 10:08 AM | Permalink


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Maybe she should skip the goldfish and not have to find out.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 29, 2008 10:51:27 AM

Not owning pets is a perfetly valid condition of probation, especially in this case. Certianly no more odd than not using computers, staying X feet away from children, or not driving a car.

The thing about animal victims versus human victims is that you know the animal victims didn't have it coming, nor did they ask for the harm, deserve it, or allow it to happen to them due to negligence, greed, or stupidity. This is a good, fair sentence - assuming the defendant was not legally insane.

Posted by: bruce | May 29, 2008 10:58:29 AM

This is a good sentence, and I hardly ever think that.

And she should have her probation revoked if she even so much as looks at a butterfly.

Posted by: babalu | May 29, 2008 11:26:53 AM

For some reason I can't feel sorry for her. i don't wish for anyone to go to prison, but some times its deserved.

Posted by: EJ | May 29, 2008 1:17:45 PM

Count my vote for fair sentence.

Posted by: noway | May 29, 2008 1:21:24 PM

I agree with everyone above - an animal abuser deserves less sympathy than a recidivist crack dealer. That said, shouldn't she have gotten a break for having to listen to that comment from the prosecutor? Animal cruelty puns are never ok. Absolutely laughable, and sanctionable in my book.

Posted by: | May 29, 2008 5:30:30 PM

Perhaps less sympathy than a crack dealer, but less sympathy than a person who abuses people? People go to jail for assault and domestic violence charges for less than three years.

Posted by: Narcolepsy | May 30, 2008 4:31:45 AM

torturing dogs is worse than giving your wife a black eye after drinking a few beers and having her bitch during the ballgame

Posted by: bruce | May 30, 2008 10:10:16 AM

While everyone loves dogs and condemns animal abuse, I could see a 6 month sentence as being reasonable, but three years is excessive. I've represented clients who were convicted of unlawful wounding or even malicious wounding (the Virginia term for what would be at common law called maiming - malicious wounding requires malice aforethought) who got less than three years.

Posted by: Zack | May 30, 2008 3:38:41 PM


I see we agree again. Gads. Sooner or later, you're going to ruin my reputation for being a Neanderthal.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 30, 2008 11:00:22 PM

Bill, remember I'm the guy who said today's children are so worthless that one of them being raped by a pedophile would likely be the most useful they will ever be to another person (and even worse, I didn't apologize for it!). Heh. As long as I'm siding with defendants/convicts/the accused and you're siding w/ the government, you are in no risk of being deemed a Neanderthal (except by me and maybe S.cotus).

I am somewhat surprised you agree with the last statement I wrote on here (@ 10:10:16 AM). It sounds harsh and many people would twist it to say I support wife-beating. In modern polemics, saying A is worse than B means you are in favor of B.

Posted by: bruce | Jun 1, 2008 10:48:48 PM

remember I'm the guy who said today's children are so worthless that one of them being raped by a pedophile would likely be the most useful they will ever be to another person

A statement like that makes me think you are a Neanderthal Bruce. Mission accomplished!!

Posted by: USMC | Jun 2, 2008 6:29:19 PM

Not my mission, but that's fine. I think people who constantly talk about "the children" and use "the children" as the justification for bad public policy are idiots.

Posted by: bruce | Jun 3, 2008 12:23:04 PM

Animal abuse is terrible. I think she should be banned from owning pets forever.

Posted by: Pet Tags Direct | Mar 29, 2011 2:15:36 AM

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