Starve a beautiful, loyal German shepherd nearly to death in Orange County, Calif., and you get sentenced to a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty. At least that’s what happened in the case of Courage, the dog we have written about many times on the Dogster dog blog since last spring, when the severely emaciated dog was taken in by a rescue group and painstakingly nursed back to health from the brink of death.
Kimberly Nizato’s lawyer, Andrew Stein, was able to convince the judge that Nizato’s actions were not worthy of the felony charges she was up against.
“I make no excuse for what my client did,” Stein told the judge. “But I believe this was a crime of omission not commission.”
For her little omission of neglecting to feed her dog for weeks while he was tied up in a back yard, for her wee oversight that led her robust shepherd’s weight to plummet down to 37 pounds as he resorted to eating dirt and rocks in an attempt to survive, Nizato now has a single charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty on her record.
Judge Robert J. Higa sentenced the former veterinary clinic kennel assistant to 30 days in county jail and three years of probation. She’ll also pay restitution of $2,034, and court fees. A felony conviction would have put her in jail for up to three years, with a fine of up to $20,000.
The good news for any future dogs she may own is that the judge banned her from owning pets, and ordered the single mother to undergo counseling.
While the district attorney was “noticeably upset” at the greatly reduced sentence, German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County‘s Lisa Whiseant, who has been Courage’s guardian (and guardian angel) since he was first brought in, says Courage has moved on. “He is a healthy, joyous, 92-pound dog that spends his days playing with toys, his shepherd gal pal, and his wading pool. He harbors no ill effects and is now in perfect health…His temperament is loving and forgiving.”
Check out this healthy, happy boy in the photo below. This truly is the face of courage…
Sources: OC Register, Examiner.com, many previous Dogster dog blog posts