MT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (1/10/2020) - A Mt. Morris Township man will spend a year in jail after he was convicted of leaving a dog outside in frigid temperatures with no shelter in December 2017.
James Roche, 32, was convicted in November of felony animal torture, which carries up to four years in prison, and a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge.
Based on Roche's criminal history, state sentencing guidelines called for up to nine months in jail. However, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton asked the judge to exceed that with a full year jail sentence.
Roche asked the court for no jail time and only a probation sentence.
Leyton said the court agreed on a need to send a strong message of deterrence for animal abuse. Roche was sentenced to spend one year in jail and an additional 24 months on probation.
Roche's neighbors got concerned in December 2017 when they noticed his dog was barely able to walk while outside in a snowstorm and temperatures in the mid-20s.
Police found the pit bull-German Shepherd mix urinating uncontrollably with no food, water or shelter. An officer had to carry the dog to his patrol car to warm up.
Staff at the Genesee County Animal Shelter removed two T-shirts that had been tied around the dog's neck, which caused a deep 4-inch laceration. Authorities believe a pinch collar recently had been removed.
A veterinarian testified during the trial that the dog's wound was infected and required surgery. He believes the dog had been wearing the pinch collar for at least a month.
The dog later recovered and was adopted to another family. A puppy tied up on the front porch of the residence also was seized and adopted to a new family.