By: Tracy Campion
Pierce County, WA- On Monday, September 17th, Ricky Lee Knowles was sentenced to 6 months in jail for the near-fatal attack of his neighbor’s dog, Kona. Knowles, 55, of Orting, WA, lured the Golden Retriever into his yard on March 20. Knowles attempted to feed the Golden Retriever rat poison and then tried to strangle him with a wire. When he was unsuccessful, he beat Kona in the head with a hatchet. Kona suffered a crushed skull, broken jaw, and blood-filled eyes, but survived the attack when a neighbor heard Kona yelping and called 911. When officers arrived, they found Kona tied to a pole and bleeding from severe wounds to his head and neck.
“If this had been a human being, it would have amounted to torture,” stated prosecutor Dione Hauger.
After he has served his jail time, Knowles will be placed on an electronic home monitoring system for an additional 6 months. Knowles was also ordered to take at least 2 years of counseling with a bi-annual check up and restitution and court fees totaling close to $7,000. This includes Kona’s vet bill, which reached $5,000.
“Animal cruelty is a sad and particularly offensive crime,” stated prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “While we recommended a longer sentence than was imposed, the important thing is that Mr. Knowles has been held accountable for his crime.”
Prior to sentencing, a crowd of community members and Pasado’s Safe Haven staff and volunteers gathered for a peaceful demonstration for Kona. When the judge sentenced Knowles, the crowd erupted with applause.
Knowles pleaded guilty in July to first-degree animal cruelty and requested no jail time.
During sentencing, Knowles apologized for his actions. “I just want to tell Kona and his family [that] I’m really sorry,” Knowles said. Knowles stated that he was suffering from stress and snapped at the time of the attack. “I had no premeditation. I just couldn’t take the noise any longer,” he said. “He was barking and I just snapped. I can’t explain it.”
Kona’s owner spoke to the judge about how this attack had affected his family and Kona. He also said that he wanted Knowles to explain why he did this. “He had my number. Why didn’t he call me if my dog was barking?” he asked.
Kona’s family moved out of the neighborhood shortly after the attack.
While Kona’s attacker did not receive the maximum sentence allowable by law, Kona’s case is a reminder that Seattle-area pet owners need to push for stronger laws to protect our animals. Ultimately, this also helps keep our communities safe. And were it not for Kona’s neighbor who called 911, Kona would have succumbed to this attack. If you witness animal cruelty, calling 911 can truly save a life.
Read more: Examiner.com