When you decide to take on a pet, you're giving yourself a huge responsibility. While it's no skin off your back to set out a bowl of food and water for an animal and keep them indoors, to your pet, it means the world.
Because for the most part, you're keeping that animal from death. You provide them shelter. You make sure they aren't getting chewed to bit by any parasites and regulate when they do. You give them love. You give them structure. In return, they adore you and are cute and unflinchingly loyal because animals are better at that thing than human beings are.
Sadly, many humans who take on pets don't take the responsibility of caring for them very seriously. Some of them neglect their animals, keep them in cramped spaces, keep them locked up, keep them outside in the cold. They don't clean them. They don't get their fur trimmed, don't take them for check-ups, or don't feed them properly.
The punishments for animal neglect, even if it's reported, and even if people are found guilty of it, aren't that strict. They're not enough to stop people from getting a cute pet or puppy and then quit taking care of them properly when the responsibility proves to be too much for them to handle.
But Ohio Judge Michael Cicconnetti, who's had compassion for animals from a very young age, is looking to change that by doling out sentences that give animal abusers a taste of their own medicine.
Judge Mike's creative punishments can't be "cruel or unusual" - he's a man of the law. So if you're thinking he's going to put a shock collar on someone's neck or make them eat expired dog food, sorry to burst your twisted bubble, that's now what he's about.
But they are pretty unique and perfectly fit the circumstances of the offending animal abusers. For example, one woman was brought in front of Judge Mike after her pet dog was found to be living in total filth. Abhorred by the circumstances she forced her pet to live in, Judge Mike decided to let her see what it would be like to live in total filth herself.
"I want you to go down to the county dump, to the landfill, and I want them to find the stinkiest, smelliest, God-awful odor place they can find in that dump and I want you to sit there for eight hours tomorrow, to think about what you did to that dog while you smell the odor. If you puke, you puke.”
No lie, that's what he actually told her. You can listen to the audio here.
There was another instance where a woman took 35 kittens and just left them in the woods to fend for themselves.
Judge Mike not only fined her and sentenced her to jail, but he also sentenced her to spend a night in the woods, cold, and alone herself.
"How would you like to be dumped off at a metro park late at night, spend the night listening to the coyotes … listening to the raccoons around you in the dark night, and sit out there in the cold not knowing where you’re going to get your next meal, not knowing when you are going to be rescued?”
And he actually carried through with the sentence. Watch this woman walk out in the snow, being escorted by police into the woods (video starts at 52 seconds).
Judge Mike isn't doling out these sentences simply because it's a case of satisfying "eye for an eye" style justice - he genuinely hopes that these creative punishments opens the eyes of not only the individuals who abused their pets, but for others who hear of them.
He noticed that certain individuals were repeat offenders and wanted them to truly understand what they did wrong.
Since word is spreading about his unique approach to justice for animals, Judge Mike hopes that more and more people realize that animal neglect/abuse is a crime, a serious crime, and that living all things should be treated with respect.
He's also pushing for mental evaluations to be made mandatory for individuals who are brought in for animal-related crimes, and that a registry of repeat offenders will be stored in a database, much like sex offenders, so people who have a history of violence or abuse against animals aren't legally allowed to own one.
A visit to his Facebook page reveals that there are tons of people who support his creative approach to doling out justice.
There are some people who are evaluating whether or not his peculiar punishments ultimately work. Turns out that Judge Mike's entire career was defined by his unique approach to sentencing, and it doesn't just pertain to animals.
What do you think of Cicconetti's approach?