Woman gets slap on the wrist for animal cruelty

Cherika Alvarez leaves the Bronx Supreme Court Wednesday after receiving 20 days of community service for animal cruelty. (RICHARD HARBUS/Daily News)

A Bronx mother who left her pitbull puppy to die a “horrible death” in a vacant apartment received a light sentence yesterday from the Bronx Supreme Court judge after making a tearful plea for forgiveness.

Cherika Alvarez, 30, was sentenced on Sept. 28 to 20 days of community service and banned from owning or handling animals for the next three years.

Alvarez was found guilty last month of abandoning her year-old pitbull Alizé after she was evicted from her Belmont apartment. The dog was found dead six weeks later, surrounded by a pool of its own blood, its stomach filled with nothing but razor blades, ketchup packets, splintered wood and garbage.

Alvarez faced up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for leaving the dog to suffer. Judge Robert A. Sackett denied the prosecution’s request that the defendant receive at least 30 days in jail for the misdemeanor offense, saying he believed the single mom had learned her lesson.

“She failed to nurture and care for the dog,” said the judge. “But she has never been arrested before in her life, and she is not a danger to the community.”

The defense argued that Alvarez had suffered enough for her actions, and that sending her to jail would have negative effects for her eight-year-old son.

“She’s afraid to leave the house,” defense attorney Scott Levy said. “She wears sunglasses so people on the street won’t recognize her.”

The prosecution emphasized the dog’s suffering, calling Alvarez’s behavior a “case of utter negligence.”

During earlier testimony, Alvarez claimed she had arranged for a man she met on the street— and whom she did not know — to pick up the puppy and care for it after she vacated her apartment. The man she called only “Jose,” was never called to the witness stand.

“Alizé obviously can’t be here today to speak for herself, but she felt hunger, pain, agony,” Assistant District Attorney Megan Mellum said. “And the worst part is that Ms. Alvarez still maintains her innocence.”

Dressed in a gray cardigan with her hair pulled back tightly, Alvarez had trouble finding her voice as she begged the judge for leniency.

“I’m really, really sorry this happened,” Alvarez said, choking back tears. “I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t hurt another animal again, not even a cockroach.”

A day earlier, the managers of a Facebook page dedicated to seeking justice for Alizé mobilized activists to fax Sackett’s chambers, asking him to hand down the maximum sentence.

Judge Sackett rejected the slippery slope argument offered by the prosecution that a person who abuses an animal might abuse a child.

Roxanne Delgado, a visitor to the Facebook page and Bronx resident who said she volunteers for animal rights groups, said after the sentencing that Alvarez posed a danger to society and her own son.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which reported the 2009 incident to the police, said it would have preferred a stiffer sentence, but applauded the conviction.

“We are at least gratified,” said Stacy Wolf, vice president of the ASPCA, “to know that Ms. Alvarez now has a criminal record.”

Additional reporting by BronxInk.org staff

2 Responses to “Woman gets slap on the wrist for animal cruelty”

  1. avatar whatever says:

    This incompetent judge graduated from a law school in Puerto Rico. I rest my case. Incompetent ignoramus who condones this woman who needs to be deported back to wherever she is from. Immediamente.

  2. avatar muttsy says:

    The Puerto Rican connection at work. Judge Derrick Carro is also a member of this connection; look into who he convicts & don’t convicts.


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