Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Young woman admits to pit bull cruelty in Sterling Heights

By Jameson Cook, from Daily Tribune

A 19-year-old woman blamed starvation of her two pet pit bulls on being overwhelmed while living on her own and feared that they would be “put down” if she gave them up.

A soft-spoken Lisa Marie Precourt made the comments during and after she pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty, one resulting in death, in 41A District Court in Sterling Heights.

After she admitted she failed to feed the American Pit Bull Terriers, Judge Michael Maceroni pressed her on her explanation.

“I just had a hard time struggling taking care of myself and then I took on the responsibility of both dogs knowing I should have sought help a while ago,” she told the judge. “One thing I was afraid of was them both being put down or something happening to them.”
She did not have a lawyer but was accompanied by her grandmother and a young man.

She said after the hearing that “Kilo” and “Chaos” were important to her. She said she inherited Kilo from her father and obtained Chaos over craigslist.

“I was afraid of giving up my dogs because that’s all I really had,” she said.

She surrendered the emaciated dogs Nov. 18 to Detroit Bully Corps, an Ann Arbor-based pit bull rescue group. Kilo was renamed “Angel,” but died four days later from complications; cloth and plastic that she ate were found in her stomach. Chaos, renamed “Shiner,” survived and is thriving under the care of DBC, spokeswoman Michelle Spranger said.

Precourt was charged Dec. 7 and released on bond.

The plea was taken in front of about 25 animal rights enthusiasts, many of them associated with DBC. Also represented was a handful of other rescue groups, including Rochester Hills-based Animal Aid Foundation. The case gained traction from the public with the help of a Facebook page, “Angel & Shiner’s Journey.”

DBC president Bill Bellottie said he wished Precourt would have been charged with a felony but said he is “happy with the outcome” and realizes she has faced life challenges. She said she was adopted at 11 and was living on her own, attending Baker College and working two jobs, after graduating from Eisenhower High School. She has since moved in with her grandmother in Shelby Township.

“We understand and we identify with the fact that she didn’t have a good upbringing and didn’t have a good support system,” he said. “So now it’s our job as a community, as lawmakers to be her parents, to teach her what it is needed to be a moral and objective citizen.”

The death charge is punishable by up to one year in the Macomb County Jail and the second charge is punishable by up to 93 days in jail.

Assistant Macomb prosecutor Dana Goldberg said she didn’t have a position on jail time but requested she be sentenced to the full two years or probation, during which she could not own an animal.

Goldberg requested a presentence investigation after Precourt asked that she be punished under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act in which her convictions would be erased if she successfully completes a probationary period.

She also suggested community service and $5,000 in restitution, although Bellottie said he hopes she will be ordered to perform community service with his organization to work off the restitution and absorb important lessons, especially if she hopes to become a mother someday.

“I believe she is starting to understand the gravity of the situation,” he said. “That’s what my true hope is, to help her and really able to teach her through working with our animals and getting a proper education on how to care for them, how two deal with them, more or less through moral osmosis learn they are living things that depend on care and learn that before she has children.”

No sentencing date was set.

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