Ponce’s Law Used To Ban Man From Owning Animals, But Was It Called Upon Too Soon?Matthew Russell
After a dog named Ponce was killed by his owner in 2017, lawmakers decided his death should not be in vain. Though the Labrador’s owner, Travis Archer, was subsequently charged with felony animal cruelty for the crime, a new law was placed in the books to deter such crimes from ever happening again.
A few months later, a man was found kicking and beating his dog the following year in Daytona Beach, it seemed Ponce’s Law was finally being called on to deliver justice, the Daily Commercial reports.
Details from a police report indicate that witness Diana Vontevener first saw Sullivan outside her office, where he was beating the dog, kicking it in the head, and pulling its ears. The dog spent the next five minutes crying, the report maintains.
After confronting Sullivan, Vontevener was met with contempt.
“This is my dog and I can do whatever the (expletive deleted) I want,” Sullivan told her.
The dog was found by police, uninjured, but severely shaken up and acting timidly.
According to the Dayton Beach News-Journal, Dean Sullivan was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, he was sentenced to 240 days in jail, and under Ponce’s Law, would have been barred from having another pet for the rest of his life.
However, Ponce’s Law is not officially scheduled to take effect until Oct. 1, 2018. Any restriction placed on Sullivan, in reference to that law, may be removed.
“It should not have been imposed,” said Public Defender Jim Purdy. “We are going to go straighten that out right now.”
County Judge Dawn Fields was responsible for Sullivan’s sentencing, as well as applying the lifetime ban on animal ownership, as recommended by prosecutors. Sullivan accepted the sentence, and pleaded guilty to the crime, though removing the ban will still require Fields’ approval.
This is the first time Ponce’s Law had been applied to a case in Florida’s 7th Circuit Court, though Ponce’s killer, 44-year-old Archer, is still awaiting trial for his crime.
Port Orange resident Debbie Taylor Darino first proposed the measure to legislators and led the effort to create Ponce’s Law. While the majority of Florida ballot initiatives take effect on July 1, a provision in Ponce’s Law to give pet owners time to find their lost animals at shelters pushed its effective date back to Oct. 1.
Though Sullivan’s charge under Ponce’s Law may be lifted, Darino is still hopeful it will deter other animal cruelty cases in the future.
“I’m really happy, because that was my goal to get these animals away from these abusers for one and get them sentenced to jail like they should be,” Darino said.
Learn more about Ponce’s law in the video below.