Support from around the world continues to come in for one-year old pit bull Patrick, and the New Jersey woman accused of abandoning him has pleaded not guilty.
Public defender Regina Lynch entered the plea on behalf of Kisha Curtis, 27, who is in the Essex County Jail, during Curtis’ first appearance by video conference Thursday in Superior Court in Newark.
NJ.com reports Curtis faces two counts of tormenting and torturing a living creature by failing to provide sustenance and two counts of abandonment, according to Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello.
Curtis' mother, Tammie Curtis, was present for the arraignment and defending her daughter.
"Somebody gave that dog to Kisha," Tammie said, "and she couldn't take care of it.”
After the hearing, Tammie Curtis said her daughter left the dog, whose rescuers named him Patrick, tied at the Garden Spires apartments in Newark and went to Albany, N.Y.
Patrick was tied to a stairway railing with a leather leash, Mark Ortman, a security guard at the 520-unit complex, said.
Judge Amilkar Velez-Lopez kept Curtis’ bail at $10,000 bond or $1,000 cash and forbid her to have contact with pets.
If convicted, Curtis faces 18 months in prison, a $3,000 fine and community service.When a custodian found Patrick on March 16, the dog was inside a trash bag at the bottom of a 22-story garbage chute.
Meanwhile, CBS New York reports Essex County’s courthouse has received more than 200 letters and faxes from around the world expressing concern for the dog and urging swift and harsh punishment for Curtis.
Prosecutor Carolyn Murray is taking this case so seriously that she assigned two assistants who normally handle homicides to the case.
Since being found, the starved pit bull has been recovering at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls. Though not ready for adoption, Patrick has gained two pounds, and he barks and wags his tail, hospital administrator Patricia Smillie-Scavelli said.
On its website, the center wrote that is has received so many donations that it has discontinued accepting them and is urging people to donate to local animal shelters.
And Today.com reports the local SPCA, which first filed charges, is still trying to determine if someone else put Patrick in a bag and threw him down the garbage chute. More people may yet be charged.
It is asking anyone with information to call its tip line at 800-582-5979.