Sunday, September 8, 2013

“Pleas, (definitely do not) Please Me”: A Reflection on the Trial of Keisha Curtis, Abuser of Patrick the Pit Bull

 by Susan E. Davis, PT

The Beatles sang it (Please, Please me) in 1963.  Keisha Curtis sang her true colors as she changed her plea to “Guilty” on the eve of her trial in July 2013. The trial date was rescheduled for August 29.

Let’s go back to June of 2011, when Keisha Curtis made her appearance at the initial court hearing in Newark, New Jersey.   

After having shown herself by manner of dress and behavior as sauntering, defiant, and disrespectful, she entered a “not guilty” plea.  Two years went by as the delayed legal preparations, hearings, and proceedings progressed.

Keisha Curtis finally faced her rescheduled day in court regarding the abuse of Patrick the Pit Bull, on August 29, 2013. 

This was a “kinder, gentler” (except for the hair) Keisha, indeed.  How convenient.
The Judge delivered his ruling:  18 months of probation, no rights to own Patrick, and a payment of just under $2,000 US to the New Jersey ASPCA for their expenses to investigate the crime.
That’s right folks, no jail time, and no mention of owning other animals ...

The Judge justified his ruling based on:
  • Patrick survived and is now thriving    
  • Keisha Curtis is unlikely to commit such a crime as this again.   
  • Tougher penalties for animal abuse and cruelty have been established due to the public outcry over this case. Laws are being considered across the country, etc.

But, here’s the best one:  “Curtis’ crime is a ‘3 or 4’ on a scale of one to ten, compared to the murder of a cop, which is a 10.

The judge went on to say that he has wise perspective on this as he “has been doing this a long time”.   Well, maybe TOO LONG.

So, what about the judge’s ruling and punishment for Keisha Curtis? Is it enough?

Oh, I think not.  Not even close.

I saw Patrick for the first time exactly 21 days after he was discovered near death.  

He was still so weak he could barely stand and walk. He was greatly improved from his initial discovery, but what I saw was bad enough. Some have asked me to write more about Patrick.  I wrote a series of three articles for petMD with Dr. Patrick Mahaney in 2011 and 2012, outlining the facts and about his physical therapy program. 

But there is so much more that I have never been able to write about:  the evidence of the horror Patrick had to endure, the fierce “beauty” of survival, his trust and determination, all mixed with the bitter feuding and struggle between those involved in his rescue, those providing his medical care, law enforcement officials, lawyers, city mayors, even a few celebrities mixed in.

There are things I can never write about, but I can give my opinion on the outcome of this trial. I believe I’ve earned it.

Judging other people is not an honorable thing and I try stay away from it, but with this case it is hard to avoid.   People make mistakes, even terrible bad mistakes.  I’ve made some mistakes of my own.  The key, I believe, is admitting or confessing them right away.  “Owning it”, as the generations younger than I would say (what EVER…)!

Claiming (defiantly) to be” not guilty” for 2 years, then changing your plea on the eve of the trial is just too convenient.  I have no respect.  

So, the Judge feels that Patrick has fully recovered and is now thriving.  Is “All’s Well that ends well” the new gold standard taught in law school?

That just doesn’t sit WELL with me. 

I wonder how long Patrick will thrive. 

I doubt that Patrick will ever fully recover from the cellular damage to his internal organs from dehydration and starvation. 

How can we assume he does not have internal memory of what he had to endure? And didn’t we need these laws and penalties a long time ago before Patrick’s (and countless other animals’) agony?  Is this a reason to go easy on the defendant? And what about the probability of Keisha Curtis being unlikely to commit a crime of this type again and turning her life around?

You know the answers to these questions.  

I have my doubts about a person who takes the easy way out by dumping her dog into a plastic bag, forcing his dehydrated stiffened limbs to squeeze into the opening of the high rise building trash chute, pushing him down that chute, leaving him there to suffer and perish, denying her guilt, delaying justice, changing her plea at the eve of her trial to attain a lighter sentence ... forgive me for being a skeptic. 

Folks like that tend to stay like that.

Finally, the notion that what Curtis did is a mere 3 or 4 compared to the killing of a cop:  well, nobody was asking for the death penalty.  Justice may have been better served if Curtis got a punishment suited to at least a “3 or 4”, instead of a (barely) 1 or 2. 

Animals deserve better representation and respect. 

The heart of this case speaks to how we treat the helpless and vulnerable, whether they are a person or an animal.  I doubt that anyone, except for Curtis, feels satisfied with the outcome of this trial. 

And, Patrick, I love you buddy.

Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services each week to a shelter and sanctuary for neglected and abused animals.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs

Further reading:
The Will to Survive - Patrick's Story, Part 1
Patrick the Pit Bull’s Recovery from a Life of Abuse and Neglect- Part 2 

1 comment

  1. I completely agree that she deserves so much more than she got. If that was her child and not her dog the outcome would've been so much different. There needs to be more justice for the poor abused animals out there.