Michael Cicconetti, a municipal court judge in Painesville, Ohio, is famous for handing out creative sentences to first-time animal abuse offenders as well as others who break the law. Anyone who hits his courtroom for the first time knows that the sentence will be anything but normal.
Traditionally, sentences consist of jail time and fines. Cicconetti still offers these as options, but he adds a unique twist in an attempt to keep offenders from repeating their bad behavior. In the mid 1990s, Cicconetti started the transformation of his sentencing approach.
"It was more out of frustration because after a year or two years, we were seeing the same people come back, with the same offenses. I thought, 'There has to be a better way to do this,'" he said in the Chicago Tribune. Cicconetti reserves his creative sentences for those who can be rehabilitated, eliminating those who return to his court on a repeat offense.
One such punishment went to Moose's owner, Morrow. According to ABC News, Morrow left her 7-year-old pit bull alone in her house, described as a hoarder's house, for one week. Cicconetti gave her the choice of either 90 days in jail or spending the day in the "stinkiest, smelliest, God-awful place they can find in that dump" picking up garbage. She chose the dump.
For the owner who shot his Great Dane in the head, his punishment was wearing a Safety Pup costume and visiting Painesville elementary schools for a day. The cat owner who dumped kittens in the woods was sentenced to spend a night in the woods alone.
Not everyone gets a creative sentence, though. One man entered Cicconetti's courtroom for the second time. He had dropped a puppy out a sixth-floor apartment window into a Dumpster. The Chicago Tribune quotes Cicconetti as saying "You are just vicious. You are revolting. You are cruel. You are inhuman, what you did here. Oh, would I like to put you in a Dumpster? Oh, yeah. I would love to do that." Instead, the offender, because it wasn't his first offense, got six months in jail and can never own animals again.
Cicconetti's methods may seem a little unorthodox, but they must be working. He has few repeat offenders appear in his courtroom. As he told ABC News, he believes in making the punishment fit the crime.