FREEHOLD, N.J. -- A New Jersey man has been sentenced to a year in prison for leaving his girlfriend's young dog in a cage at water's edge in a rising tide.
Aaron Davis, 36, wanted revenge against his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, who had given her the dog, prosecutors have alleged. Jurors in December acquitted him of the most serious animal cruelty count, that he attempted to kill the dog, but convicted him of a less serious cruelty count.
A judge said during Friday's sentencing that the fact that the 8-month-old pit bull mix was trapped for more than three hours at Sandy Hook Bay in July 2018 made things worse.
"This dog was watching his own demise with every wave and every minute that passed," Judge Marc LeMieux told the Long Branch resident, according to the Asbury Park Press. Taking issue with a defense argument that no harm came to the animal, he said the dog “doesn’t have the ability to say that 'I was scared out of my wits.'"
The dog was rescued after someone walking a dog in Veterans Memorial Park in Highlands spotted the animal cowering in the cage.
Defense attorney Adamo Ferreira argued for his client to be sentenced to the 44 days he has been jailed since his arrest, asking the judge to look upon him as a father to a child and a son to his mother.
The judge, however responded that some people view pets as their children, and said Davis had taken the puppy away from his own child and the children of his girlfriend. If the defendant simply wanted to abandon the dog, he could have left the animal on the street or at the police station, he said.
“You took an animal that was completely helpless, locked him in a cage and put him in a location where he could drown," LeMieux said to Davis, who declined to speak when offered an opportunity to do so.