The woman who crudely tried to euthanize her dog by hitting the ill, black Labrador mix in the head with a hammer, and then abandoning the animal in a zipped, duffel bag near a roadside, received a four month jail sentence.
58-year old Terri Lynn Benson of Pardeeville will report to jail later this month. She was also sentenced Monday to three years probation.
Authorities say as dozens of letters to the court attest, much of the public was shocked over the treatment of the older dog named Misty.
"I honestly did not do it viciously," Benson tearfully told the court.
"Using a hammer, putting her in a duffel bag, and tossing out her out like garbage...there can be no question that Ms. Benson's actions...were horrific, wrong and unjust," Columbia County Judge Todd Hepler said.
Misty was spotted by three high schoolers after her abandonment in January 2016, and the dog was rescued. The Labrador enjoyed several months of good health with a foster family, until she succumbed to cancer in October.
The maximum, possible sentence for Benson's felony animal mistreatment charge was eighteen months incarceration. Hepler says he reserves the strictest sentence for this crime for those who are motivated by revenge, and notes Benson expressed remorse and has no other criminal record.
"I wish it had been a little harder," Misty's foster owner, Brenda Vesely says.
Vesely and others who wanted accountability for Misty's mistreatment, and are pushing lawmakers to increase penalties for animal cruelty attended Monday's sentencing.
"There can be no question that the publicity surrounding the Justice For Misty movement has brought much-needed awareness to the plight of abandoned and abused animals," Hepler says.
"Misty did get justice," Vesely says.