WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - “I’ve sent a message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in this county,” State Attorney Dave Aronberg said after a Palm Beach County judge sentenced a woman to prison for abandoning a dog that later died.
Judge Laura Johnson sentenced Katheryn Portman, 43, to 18 months in prison followed by three years probation.
Portman was found guilty of animal cruelty earlier this month. Officers arrested Portman in August 2016 after a motel employee of the Sands Hotel in Riviera Beach brought the dog, Bruno, to Paws 2 Help animal clinic when Portman left it in her room after checking out.
“What really got me as an animal lover, dog owner and just human being were knowing that this dog, in the last months of his life, had an ear infection that grew so bad that maggots were crawling in his ear,” Aronberg said.
Bruno died from malnourishment and starvation shortly after he arrived at the clinic.
Judge Johnson ordered Portman to complete 100 hours of community service and she’s not allowed to have any animals after her release.
“It’s really hard to understand the animal cruelty here. It’s not something the court takes lightly,” Johnson said.
One of the conditions of Portman's bond following her initial arrest was to not have any animals. Police reported finding a dog and cockatoo in her care while she was out on bond and she was taken into custody. Portman has been at the Palm Beach County Jail since June.
“We knew that the defendant had multiple incidences of abandoning animals in her past but we were not able to mention that in front of a jury,” Aronberg said.
Animal Care and Control accused Portman of abandoning several other animals over the past decade. Those cases were never prosecuted criminally, however.
Portman will be given 189 days credit in jail for time served towards her sentence.