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Puppy abuser who 'loves animals' sentenced to jail, probation

Puppy abuser who 'loves animals' sentenced to jail, probation

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RACINE — Despite claiming he “loves animals” and “would never try to hurt them,” a Racine man convicted of brutally and repeatedly beating his 10-month-old dog in June 2018 was sentenced in Racine County Circuit Court Tuesday to jail and probation for felony animal mistreatment.

Terrence L. Howard, now 44, a registered sex offender, was sentenced by Racine County Circuit Court Judge Wynne Laufenberg to 10 months in jail with Huber Law privileges and three years of probation; under Huber Law he is freed during the day, in his case to care for a 1-year-old son.

One condition of his probation is that he may not own any animals.

Howard, then of the 1900 block of Taylor Avenue, pleaded no contest in October to felony animal mistreatment in a case involving the reported multiple beatings, from at least June 3-7, 2018, of a young dog named Rocky.

One neighbor told The Journal Times at the time that he saw Howard “throw the dog against the side of the house” and “beat the dog for several minutes.” Howard reportedly went inside his house and came back out to start beating the dog again.

Witnesses said they heard the dog “screaming in pain” as Howard beat the dog with a pipe and “pounding” it with his fists. A neighbor said, “He was getting drunk all the time and beating that dog; I’m surprised it’s still alive.”

Assistant Racine County District Attorney Micha Schwab said Howard used a pole, pipe and his fists to beat the dog and that the beatings had been occurring for a few weeks.

Howard also admitted the violence to police, according to the criminal complaint. He reportedly told the investigator that he struck the dog on 10 different occasions because the dog would “tear up the trash.” He also admitted that the lacerations to the dog’s head were caused by him hitting the pup with his belt. He also reportedly choked the dog.

Schwab told Laufenberg the dog — which was taken in by Wisconsin Humane Society and ultimately adopted by a Hales Corners family — suffered broken ribs and abrasions.

Presentence report

Both Schwab and Howard’s attorney, Laura Walker, talked about Howard’s presentence investigation, or PSI. According to that report, Howard told the investigator that he didn’t think he had done anything wrong and that the next time the only thing he would do differently would be to take the dog inside so no one could see.

Walker contended those comments were “taken out of context.” She said Howard believes he had “disciplined” the dog and there was nothing wrong with that.

Schwab argued for prison time for Howard, but not a specific amount. She said his criminal record made that appropriate; it includes a 2005 conviction for second-degree sexual assault of a child. He was imprisoned from then until 2010 and was back in prison in December 2011.

His other convictions include obstructing an officer in 2003 and operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent in 1996, Schwab said.

She said that “he preys on the vulnerable.” In explaining the sexual assault of a young girl, Howard reportedly said that was because he and his wife were having marital problems.

Schwab noted from the PSI that Howard smoked marijuana before those interviews.

“So, he’s answering all these questions and going into a very serious interview about a felony offense, while he’s high on marijuana.”

‘I’m not an animal abuser’

Walker asked Laufenberg to focus on the animal abuse charge itself and not Howard’s past sexual assault conviction for which she said he “had paid his debt to society.”

“He’s not here to be sentenced for a sex offense,” she said.

Walker asked Laufenberg to consider an 8- to 9-month jail sentence with Huber privileges. His son’s mother is currently incarcerated and Howard is the child’s only caregiver, she said.

During his turn to speak, Howard became emotional. He claimed that what the witnesses said he did “wasn’t true; it wasn’t like that.”

“I love animals,” he said. “I’m not an animal abuser. I would never try to hurt my animals. I love my animals like I love my son.”

Howard claimed he was just trying to show the dog “what not to do.”

He is to report to the Racine County Jail on Feb. 1.

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Reporter

Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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