Criminal Justice

Disabled woman who couldn't afford vet for dog gets 6 months house arrest, can't have a goldfish


As the Tampa Bay Times earlier told the story, a disabled Florida woman living on a $508-a-month government check had essentially done the best she could for her beloved 14-year-old dog, Harley.

But those who charged, convicted and sentenced Tammy Brown in a felony animal cruelty case saw a different story. After spending 36 days in jail awaiting sentencing, Brown, 47, got six months of house arrest on Friday. After she completes that sentence, she must perform 300 hours of community service and complete three years of probation, reports the Tampa Bay Times. She must also pay $1,000 in court costs.

Circuit Judge William Webb also added a special restriction, telling Brown: “I don’t want you to own any animals. Not even a goldfish.”

A Pasco Animal Services officer said Harley couldn’t stand up without support when she saw the elderly chow mix and the dog had also had a severe, painful ear infection for some time, the judge said. He told Brown he questioned her sincerity because she didn’t seem to be concerned.

A prosecutor who ordinarily handles first-degree murder cases argued for harsher punishment, according to the newspaper. He contended that Brown, who doesn’t have any prior felony record, has nonetheless demonstrated, through 11 prior arrests on charges including marijuana possession and domestic battery, that “she has not learned how to be a productive member of society.”

“We’re looking at someone who is not Mother Teresa here,” Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis told the court, arguing that Brown should be jailed for a year. “That she’s just a negligent person and poor people can’t own dogs in Pasco County—nothing is further from the truth.”

Assistant public defender Willie Pura argued that Brown didn’t intend to be cruel to her pet and may, at most, have been negligent. He says he intends to appeal the felony conviction, in the hope it will be reduced to misdemeanor neglect. She did not do anything intentional to Harley, Pura points out, and is accused only of having failed to get him needed veterinary treatment.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Disabled woman who couldn’t afford to take pet to vet is convicted of felony and jailed”

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