Woman sentenced to jail for abandoning injured puppy

- A woman was sentenced to jail after a puppy was found with severe injuries in Kimball Township.

Jennifer Visga, 31, was sentenced Thursday to 93 days in jail and two years of probation, along with about $14,000 in restitution, which includes veterinary bills. She is also banned from owning pets.

Police say on Aug. 15, a pit bull mix was found severely hurt in the area of Wadhams Road and Dove Road. The dog was reportedly hurt by another dog and abandoned. Visga was arraigned on one count of animal cruelty/failed to provide care.

"She's had a lot of threats - her and her family as part of this case - actually death threats to her and her children, and her family didn't want to come to court today. They said they've stayed away because some of them were actually threatened too so it's become a very serious issue," her defense attorney said prior to sentencing.

Visga took her chance to speak.

"I would just like to say that I made a very bad decision and whatever you grant me your honor I will follow through with," she said.

Delivering her sentence, Port Huron District Court Judge John Monaghan said he received over 400 letters from people expressing outrage and demanding the maximum sentence.

"There's no allegation in this case that the defendant's conduct or the defendant's neglect caused the injuries to the animal initially," he said. "Certainly if you had caused these kind of injuries intentionally or negligently if you had harmed the dog in this way this would be an entirely different situation."

However, he says that once the dog was hurt, she failed to take action.

"You callously abandoned it to suffer and die," he said.

Monaghan added that while the restitution amount is high and that few owners would have $14,000 to spend on saving an animal's life, they would have the option to end the animal's suffering and have them put down.

"By leaving the animal to die, you forfeit any right to choose whether ... that's the proper course because you put it somebody else's hands by leaving the dog," he said.

Visga received the maximum sentence for the charge - 93 days in jail.

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