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Woman avoids jail in N.J. dog abuse case

NEWARK — A woman who admitted abandoning a dog later found at the bottom of a trash chute in a case that led to tougher animal cruelty laws was sentenced to probation Thursday by a judge who urged the animal’s supporters to ‘‘put things in perspective.’’

The Essex County prosecutor’s office had sought to have Kisha Curtis given the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to fourth-degree animal cruelty last month just before her trial was to begin. She got 18 months of probation instead.

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Curtis, 29, admitted she left the pit bull tied to a railing outside her Newark apartment building in 2011 when she left town for a week. The emaciated dog was found in a plastic bag at the bottom of the building’s trash chute, unable to stand and weighing about 20 pounds, about 30 pounds below normal. Curtis didn’t admit to throwing the dog down the trash chute.

Judge Joseph Cassini III said Curtis was ‘‘tried in the court of public opinion’’ and ‘‘portrayed as a monster’’ after her arrest.

The prosecutor’s office, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the facility that treated the dog — known as Patrick — received thousands of letters, faxes, and e-mails from people around the world offering support or advice.

Speaking to the courtroom Thursday, Cassini contrasted Curtis’s case with an upcoming murder case.

‘‘In this case, fortunately, no one was killed,” he said. “Patrick survived and is thriving. We have to put things in perspective.’’

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