Judge ordered Fridley woman to complete psychological therapy or face 45 days in jail.
Holly Boyd looked around the Anoka County courtroom Tuesday and said she was grateful it wasn't packed with animal rights protesters, as it was at her last hearing.
Now in tears, she was about to receive her sentence for throwing a 3-month-old Chihuahua against a dresser after the dog urinated on her leg. The dog died of its injuries.
Assistant County Attorney Kurt Deile argued Boyd, 28, should spend nearly two months in jail for the felony animal cruelty charge to which she pleaded guilty last month. He acknowledged that she has a number of mental health and chemical dependency issues but said that perhaps jail time and supervised probation could help stabilize her life.
Brad Zunker, Boyd's attorney, agreed that she was "a mental mess" and noted several traumatic events that contributed to her condition, including the death of her two children in a car accident and her being thrown out of a car in a past relationship. He said sitting in a jail cell wouldn't do her any good.
"I've been an attorney for 10 years, and I've never seen anybody in such dire need for mental health services," he said. "She is already punished daily over the dog's death."
Boyd admitted she did wrong and said that people on the bus sometimes recognize her from news reports and call her a dog murderer.
"Please have mercy on me," she said to Judge Donald Venne. "That's all I have to say."
Venne clearly had some sympathy for Boyd but said that, like other animal lovers, he was horrified when he heard the allegations. More than 20 protesters appeared at Boyd's court hearing in April.
"This little puppy was entitled to be loved by the people around it," Venne said.
Before handing down a sentence that included no jail time, Venne stressed that Boyd needed to accept all the services that would be available through probation and his court orders.
"Do what I tell you to do or else," said Venne, who added that she needed to follow all the requirements of a presentencing psychological evaluation.
If she doesn't start behavioral therapy in two weeks, he will impose a 45-day jail sentence, he said.
Venne said he had never seen "a psychological evaluation like this that showed such severe issues." Evaluations are common before sentencing.
"Nobody wants to hurt you. We just want you to get better," he said.
Afterward, Deile said his office wanted some jail time for Boyd, but "it's the court's call and we respect their decision."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465