SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County judge is under fire for handing down what many animal care advocates are calling a light sentence in an animal cruelty case.
Bexar County Judge Scott Roberts sentenced Amanda Villarreal to 10 hours of community service and fined her $200 after she pleaded no contest to animal cruelty.
The victim in the case was a small dog. It has since been nursed back to health and received the name Rusty the San Antonio Miracle Dog.
"When we found out about the sentence, we were appalled. It's such a joke of a sentence," said Kelly Oyler, who fostered Rusty during his recovery.
The dog was found in February 2014. He was huddled next to a fence in a small hole. He was severely malnourished and could barely walk.
"Rusty suffered from extreme demodex mange. He had sores and scabs all over his body," Oyler said.
Other than a few bald patches, Rusty has made a full recovery, but Oyler and those who helped him recover are still outraged at the sentence handed down to his abuser.
"The prosecution had asked the judge for nine months in jail," she said.
Oyler's frustration grew when she learned that no one testified on Rusty's behalf, not her or officials at Animal Care Services. ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said ACS staff regularly testify during cruelty cases.
"We had all hoped to have our day in court to be able to testify on behalf of Rusty. The defendant was there and able to speak for herself and provide her side of the story," Oyler said. "I couldn't even understand how they could have a sentencing without somebody there to speak for the abused animal."
Roberts was unavailable for comment. Villarreal's lawyer said the facts of the case justify his client's sentence.