HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A verdict in the case of a puppy shot in Henrico County. Today, a neighbor was convicted and ordered to jail.
Mack D. Hudson, 79, now faces a possible month behind bars for shooting a pet that, he says, scared him to death.
Little one-year-old "Grace" has taken quite a journey. From surgery, to recovery, and ultimately the court.
"Well, I personally wanted the death penalty, but I guess according to the law, he got the maximum sentence, so that's wonderful," said Heather Sheffield, who calls herself Grace's "Mom".
Like any "parent", Heather was nervous facing the man who shot her Australian Shepherd puppy. But after an hour of testimony, the judge found Hudson, her neighbor, guilty of animal cruelty, and gave him a sentence of 30 days in jail, to be served on weekends.
"It's unfortunate because the defendant is an older gentleman who does not have a prior record. But [there were] egregious facts, significant injuries to the dog," said prosecutor Heidi Barshinger.
According to testimony, on July 9, Grace and another dog walked onto Hudson's property. When Grace wouldn't leave, Hudson admitted to being scared. He said the dog had no tags, and showed its teeth. So he loaded a shotgun, got in his truck, found Grace and pulled the trigger.
Hudson testified, "I was so scared I didn't even think to call animal control."
In delivering his sentence, Judge James Yoffy later said, "What he's guilty of, is poor judgment."
"No one else seemed to agree with the defendant's opinion of the nature of the dog," Barshinger said outside the courtroom.
Grace survived following surgery, and she now receives physical therapy. But Heather feels she may never be the same again. And when given the chance to say anything at all to the man responsible, Heather instead kept her feelings inside.
"The things that I have to say, he probably wouldn't like. So, I don't wish to speak to him," she said.
Hudson avoided television cameras on his way out the side entrance of court, but his attorney said he plans to appeal today's ruling.
Officially, Hudson was sentenced to 12 months in jail with 11 months suspended. In addition to 30 days of actual time to be served on weekends, Hudson was ordered to pay a $500 fine, plus an additional $8,559.09 to cover veterinary bills. He must never make contact with Grace or the puppy's owners.
Hudson is able to stay at home while the case is appealed.
The ruling prompted a strong reaction by the Richmond SPCA which was e-mailed to NBC 12.
"This inadequate sentence of Mr. Hudson for his brutal torture of a defenseless puppy provides a prime example of the point that the Richmond SPCA has been making for quite some time. Our state, which has often laid claim to a "tough on crime" philosophy, does not provide sufficiently harsh sanctions under the law for these vicious crimes and our courts do not give these sadistic abusers any more than a slap on the wrist when they are convicted. An effective sentence of one month of real jail time and a minor fine is a shockingly inadequate punishment for an act of extreme brutality inflicted on an innocent animal. There is an undeniable connection between these sorts of vicious crimes and similar acts of abuse inflicted on people but this connection does not seem to be understood by our legislators or judges," wrote Robin Roberson Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA.