In Volusia County, Florida a divided appeals court on Friday overturned the lifetime ban on pet ownership for a man who pummeled his nine-month-old black Labrador retriever puppy named Ponce to death. The April 2017 egregious crime led to a new state law calling for harsher penalties for animal abuse.
According to FoxNews, the panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, decided the judge did not have the legal authority to impose a lifetime ban on animal ownership for Travis Archer. The ruling stated the ban could not exceed the three-year term of probation that was part of Archer’s sentence.
Judge James Edwards dissented about the reversal stating Archer had previously agreed to a lifetime ban on animal ownership.
In April 2017, police received a call from a neighbor about possible animal abuse after hearing cries from a dog obviously in great distress and pain. When police arrived, they saw a hole in the wall where Archer had thrown his puppy. They also found a bloodied knot rope he allegedly used to repeatedly beat the dog; a part of the fence had been broken and there laid Ponce. The puppy had been chained up and left to die with his head resting against the fence. Police stated the dog appeared to have been gagged and had been bleeding severely from its mouth. Officers said they also found blood stains all over the fence next to the dog’s body.
“It was a bloody scene,” Police Chief Frank Fabrizio said. “Very sad, this sub-human should never be able to own an animal again,” he told the Daytona Beach News Journal. “Ponce weighed about 70 pounds and no other pets were found in the home.”
In 2018 state lawmakers passed Ponce’s Law which increased penalties for animal abuse.
“The purpose of the law is a change to the classification of aggravated animal abuse from a Level 3 third-degree felony to a Level 5 third-degree felony. It also clarifies that judges can prohibit convicted abusers from owning or even having contact with animals. When Ponce was killed…, there was no prison time involved.”
Archer pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty and was sentenced to one year in jail and a three-year probation.
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