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A man was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty after video of him strangling his dog went viral on social media. This week, he was finally sentenced and was handed little more than a proverbial slap on the wrist.
You may have seen the horrifying video that went viral in August of last year in which a man was filmed choking and strangling his dog (don’t worry, we won’t show it here). Shortly after the video was shared on social media, Morgantown, West Virginia police identified the man as then-23-year old Jesse Workman and arrested him on animal cruelty charges. He pleaded guilty and was charged with felony animal cruelty.
In the disturbing video recorded in February of 2020, Workman was seen pinning his dog to the ground, strangling her with both hands and her collar. The dog, a Dalmatian named Luna, was seized and handed over to Monongalia County Animal Control and Adoption Center where she was cared for while the case remained open. Although she suffered abuse at his hands, Luna was not physically injured.
This week, nearly a year after his arrest, now-24-year old Jesse Workman faced sentencing. In West Virginia, a felony animal cruelty conviction can carry fines of $1000-$5000 and imprisonment of 1 to 3 years. Also included are forfeiture of the animal, costs of caring for the animal, and prohibition of possession or ownership of animals for 15 years.
Prosecuting attorney Gabrielle Mucciola requested a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison, $110 payment to the Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center for Luna’s care during the investigation, and requested counseling for Workman citing statements made that seemed to minimize the seriousness of what he’d done.
Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Gaujot denied all of the prosecuting attorney’s requests, instead sentencing Workman to a measly 6-months of unsupervised probation. No jail time, no fines, no repayment for his dog’s care, no counseling—just a proverbial slap on the wrist.
Gaujot reasoned that Workman’s actions were acted in “a moment of rage,” and that he had no prior criminal history.
Do you think the sentence was fair? Will a felony charge with a sentence of 6-months probation serve as a deterrent for other would-be abusers? Weigh in with a comment below.