Jail, probation for 3 in dog's torture

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Three people were sentenced this week for torturing a dog that had severely matted fur when found along a Macomb County road on Halloween.

On Wednesday, Judge Edward Servitto of the 16th Circuit Court sentenced Demico Knight, 22, to six months in jail and Sonja Sturdivant, 49, to 90 days in jail, according to court records. The two, along with a third defendant, Christopher Penn, 37, were also sentenced to 18 months probation for their abuse of Elvira, a Shih Tzu mix, who was rescued Oct. 31. 

Elvira before and after she was treated.

An animal rescue group Friday said it was pleased with the sentence.

“While in our eyes the punishment doesn't quite fit the crime, we are extremely pleased with the sentencing that was handed down by (the judge,)” said Rebecca Akins, president and co-founder of N.B.S. Animal Rescue, in a statement. Troy-based N.B.S. Animal Rescue has been caring for Elvira for the last six months. “(This) 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!”

Elvira was found Oct. 31 on the side of a Clinton Township road with severely matted fur. Veterinarians shaved off nearly a pound of fur.

The three defendants were also ordered to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution.

In February, the trio pleaded no contest to a charge of killing or torturing an animal. The crime is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

The dog was found near 16 Mile and Harper in Clinton Township by Macomb County Animal Control workers. They took the dog to Advanced Animal Emergency in Clinton Township, where workers gave her the name Elvira, according to officials.

She had “developed mats of hair so thick as to nearly completely cover the face,” a statement from the county Prosecutor’s Office said at the time. Her fur was also soiled with dirt and feces.

Elvira was found Oct. 31 on the side of a Clinton Township road with severely matted fur. Veterinarians shaved off nearly a pound of fur.

After veterinarians shaved nearly a pound of matted hair from the dog, they found she was a missing foot, had a fractured tibia and a massive ulcer causing blindness in her left eye. She also had bones in her hind legs that were broken at one time and were never treated.

Elvira is undergoing physical therapy is expected to be ready for adoption as early as late summer, according to the animal rescue.

Akins said Elvira is a happy and loving dog.

"Her tail rarely stops wagging when she’s around people she trusts," Akins said. "Elvira thinks that the most amazing treat on Earth is peanut butter — preferably frozen and in a Kong. She enjoys wearing pink sweaters when it’s chilly outside, tolerates the pink bows her foster mom puts in her soft fur, and loves a good nap in a super cushy dog bed."

She also said N.B.S. Animal Rescue will hold fundraisers to assist with Elvira's care.

For information, log on to the group's website or Facebook page.


Staff writer Candice Williams contributed.