Wellwishers gathered in the courtroom to support Rumble and his caregivers during the sentencing. Photos by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Rumble the puppy sat quietly in court, his head gently stroked by foster caregiver Gretchen Terpening.
Trisha Plovie, president of Canine Companions Rescue Center of Clarkston, was there to speak for him.
“The abuse and complete disregard for a living breathing being by the defendants Jeremy Atkins and Heather Bradley has rocked and saddened our community,” Plovie said at Atkins’ sentencing, Oct. 24 in 52-2 District Court. “The defendants not only took away from the healthy, normal life Rumble could have had, they took hundreds of hours of resources from our rescue, thousands and thousands of dollars from our rescue, and many, many tears and sleepless nights from Rumble’s care takers.”
Judge Joseph Fabrizio sentenced Atkins to the maximum allowed, 93 days in jail as well as $11,015.19 in restitution.
“The maximum jail sentence is the only appropriate sentence – it would be pointless to order probation,” Fabrizio said.
The jail sentence, minus 42 days he already served since he was booked into jail on Sept. 13, will be added onto a jail sentence for domestic violence against Bradley last March.
“He got the maximum that the law requires, so we are pleased in that regard, but would still like to see lawmakers toughen up on animal abuse laws,” Plovie said. “Ninety-three days in jail isn’t nearly enough for what was done to Rumble or any other animal in abuse/neglect situation.”
Bradley was sentenced, Oct. 30, for misdemeanor animal abuse to five days in jail, 14 days community service, full restitution for Rumble’s medical bills, no contact with CCRC, two years probation, and no owning of animals while on probation.
Plovie and Terpening were permitted to bring Rumble to court to provide a victim impact statement at Atkins’ sentencing, Oct. 24.
“Rumble was robbed of a healthy life by the defendant’s actions and Rumble will have to struggle through the damage he sustained, for the rest of his life,” Plovie said. “Nothing will undo what was done to him by his abusers. Rumble was not even five pounds when he was tossed in the bushes, still breathing, with a fractured skull, suffering in pain and left to die alone.He was and still is just a baby.”
The defendants pleaded guilty to abuse and neglect of the dog, abandoning him in the trash covered in maggots on July 24 at Sashabaw Mobile Homes in Independence Township. A neighbor found and rescued the dog, and contacted CCRC for help.
Terpening, who works as a veterinarian’s assistant, volunteered to foster.
“Rumble’s foster mom, Gretchen, had to give up everything she had planned for the summer to ensure Rumble had round the clock care and the best chance to overcome his injuries,” Plovie said. “Our non-profit rescue took on the financial and emotional responsibility of the defendant’s actions because it was the right thing to do for Rumble. Rumble has fought to stay alive day in and day out and we have fought with him every step of the way, with the help from supporters, donors and this amazing community.”