Dog owners get jail sentences in case of tortured Shih Tzu, Elvira

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The former owners of a severely neglected and tortured Shih Tzu, living in Clinton Township, Michigan received stiff sentences in court on Wednesday after appearing before Macomb County Circuit Judge Edward Servitto. Demico Knight, 21, was sentenced to six months in jail while his mother Sonja Sturdivant, 49, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the abuse of Elvira.

According to the press release issued by N.B.S. Animal Rescue, Knight, Sturdivant and Christopher Penn, 36, Sturdivant’s husband were also sentenced to 18 months probation and were ordered to pay restitution. The three defendants pleaded no contest to felony animal torture.

The severely neglected Shih Tzu, with clumps of matted hair covering her eyes, paws and restricting her circulation, had been brought into the Macomb County Animal Control on Halloween, by a man saying he found the dog as a stray. The seven-year-old defenseless dog was dubbed Elvira and had to be shaved from over one pound of mats and knots, had untreated broken back legs, had been missing her front foot, was partially blind and needed extensive dental surgery. A subsequent investigation revealed the man who brought Elvira into the shelter was one of her owners. 

What was really peculiar about this case is the family owned another dog who lived upstairs and was treated like a pampered pet. For some reason, however, Elvira was out of favor with her family, and the sweet little dog existed in the basement in her own feces and urine, never walked and hardly fed or ever washed or brushed.

Elvira has been recovering at the N.B.S. Animal Rescue; the organization’s Facebook page followed the little dog’s journey slowly back to health.  Since being entrusted with her care Elvira has undergone four major surgeries in an effort to give her a better quality of life. Her ulcerated left eye was removed; her left hind leg had pins inserted to try to stabilize the hock due to the ruptured tendons; a bone graft was completed from her pelvis, and a plate and screws were inserted into her leg to try to fix the broken bone that had not healed. Elvira has also undergone sessions of various alternative therapies for pain management including: hydrotherapy, chiropractic therapy, laser therapy, targeted electromagnetic pulse therapy, and shock wave therapy. She has also been fitted with a prosthetic limb for her front left leg, carpal support wraps for her other two legs with ruptured tendons, and a wheelchair.

And with all of this, the little dog’s foster parents say she never stops wagging her tail.

“While in our eyes the punishment doesn’t quite fit the crime, we are extremely pleased with the sentencing that was handed down by Judge Servitto,” wrote Rebecca Akins, president of the the N.B.S. Animal Rescue. “Elvira’s case will help pave the way for stricter laws and increased sentencing consequences that send a message to others in Macomb County. Animal abuse and animal torture will not be tolerated.

The organization continues to raise money for Elvira’s care. To date, more than $11,600 has been spent on the dog’s veterinary care. A YouCaring link can be found here.

Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.

Read her previous story here.


23 replies
  1. pennysdachshund says:

    Stiff Sentence::: Hell I would get more than that for urinating in the street where I live!!!! Or carrying an open container of beer drinking in in puplic…

    • maxiemom. says:

      So would I. I can’t tell you how angry I am at this sentence, and that scum…….. God help me, it takes a lot to make me angry, but filth like this does it every single time……..

    • Pet rescuer and animal advocate says:

      I think the death penalty would be fine here and lethal injection would be too humane!!! Serial killers start by abusing animals. The sentencing is not stiff enough!

  2. Red says:

    ANYTHING LESS THAN 10 years is NO PUNISHMENT!!! Look how they ignored this precious baby and the torture she was subjected to with those mats continually pulling on her skin 24/7??
    I am so sick of judges slapping these monsters on the hand and shoving them out the door. I don’t get it.

  3. Cynthia Como says:

    Stiff sentance? Really???? The only thing I can say is that it’s better than the usual fine and probation! Makes me sick!!!!

    • Aaron says:

      Correct, it is a “stiff” sentence compared to the norm that we see. Just this year in River Rouge, a man set his girlfriends dog on fire and killed it. He only got probation.

  4. Barkley's Mom says:

    $11,600 of treatment so far and these morons get basically a slap on the wrist and how this punishment will lead to “stricter laws” i fail to see and I won’t hold my breath. At the very least these POS’s should be made to pay back all that has been spent on this poor little dog! And what happened to the other dog that was treated like a “pampered pet” what happened to her/him?

    • Nancy Raymond says:

      These maggots got NOTHING – if they call six months and ninety days a stiff sentence then these authorities have their brains stuck where the sun doesn’t shine. These bastards should be in jail for years, not months and forced to pay for every cent of Elvira’s care. If they did this to a child, they’d be in prison for 20 years.

  5. Rev. Dr. Yvonne Ray says:

    That dog is beautiful! I would just like to beat the hell out of some people! I’m sorry but I just would.

  6. Nancy Raymond says:

    If authorities call six months and ninety days a stiff sentence I am laughing – this is nothing more than a slap on the wrist and these cruel bastards should be in prison for years and forced to pay every cent for Elvira’s care. This poor dog was tortured and Judge Sirvetta just showed exactly where his/her brains are located – if this was a child these maggots would be in prison for 20 years, yet Elvira was allowed to suffer and basically nothing was done. What a joke our justice system is.

  7. Colleen Geno says:

    Why is there so many incompetent judges when it comes to animal welfare? How come these outdated laws and regulations are not up to par? This is the 21st century for Christ Sakes!! Scientists and animal specialists have finally figured out that animals are sentinel beings. They feel everything humans feel. They breath, they dream, they feel sadness. They also feel joy and happiness. They protect their young and are sad when a friend passes.etc… So why are 95.9 % of these so called judges letting so many animal torturers and killers off with a slap on the wrist? Hasn’t it already been proven that these are monsters and future pedophiles and serial killers? We all know that every single one of them are stinking cowards and if given a chance they will hurt another living being that is defenseless and weaker than them.

  8. Michelle Anteau-Burrows says:

    This breaks my heart and pisses me off at the same time! I have a shih tzu and she is tge besy and most living little girl. She is a little sweetheart and we love her so much. How anyone could hurt any animal is just unacceptable! Such a cute little lady.


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