The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Patrick The celebrity Pit Bull To Stay In Tinton Falls

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Patrick The celebrity Pit Bull To Stay In Tinton Falls

Published: Friday, June 03, 2011, 7:30 AM
Eunice Lee/The Star-Ledger 

NEWARK — In March, he was an abused dog rescued from a Newark apartment garbage chute. Today, he's viewed as a money maker whose ability to rake in donations for sympathetic causes has three groups fighting over him.
The story of Patrick the Pit Bull has turned into a bizarre tale involving the humane society, the Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls and the city of Newark.
The custody battle landed in a courtroom yesterday, where attorneys representing Associated Humane Societies and Newark dug into each other in a heated debate.
Harry Levin, representing Associated Humane Societies, argued Patrick is the property of the humane society, which initially took in the dog. Patrick's fame has raised an estimated $100,000, he said.
"What happens to Patrick is an important issue. Patrick has become a celebrity," Levin said in his testimony before Superior Court Judge Joseph Cassini III in Newark.
William Strazza, representing the city, argued Patrick technically still belongs to his alleged abuser, Kisha Curtis, who faces animal cruelty charges.
"Patrick didn't wake up one day and decide to become a celebrity. He was turned into one" by the Associated Humane Societies, Strazza said.
Meanwhile, Patricia Smillie-Scavelli, hospital administrator at Garden State Veterinary Specialists, said she hopes to one day adopt Patrick.
Cassini denied the humane society’s request to move Patrick from the animial hospital to the society's zoo. He said Patrick is being "adequately cared for" by the veterinary specialists and will remain there through Curtis' trial.
"Patrick is both the victim and evidence in this case," Cassini said.
"It's really a stretch to say Patrick is like a pound of cocaine that needs to stay in an evidence locker," Levin retorted.

Patrick's publicity has launched national anti-cruelty movements, protests, prayer vigils, T-shirt sales and hundreds of Facebook fan groups worldwide.
Last month, Patrick fans from as far away as Rhode Island and Massachusetts rallied in Newark as Curtis made her first court appearance. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office has been flooded with 3,000 letters from Patrick supporters.
The animal hospital obtained a court order April 26 that Patrick be kept there during Curtis' trial.
Smillie-Scavelli says it's not about the money.
"I don't think it's a question of what we want — it's what we've been asked to do," she said.
Levin accused the city of Newark, which contracts with the humane society and has had a rocky history, of "teaming up" with the animal hospital to exploit Patrick’s fame. Mayor Cory Booker has raised more than $35,000 for a new animal shelter he wants to build in honor of Patrick.
"The city of Newark doesn’t have the money itself, so it’s going to capitalize on this animal," said Levin, who argued the city is in collusion with Smillie-Scavelli, who wants to adopt the dog.
"Nobody has vetted Ms. Scavelli," Levin said. "I’m not saying she’s a bad lady, I just don’t know her."
Smillie-Scavelli, who said she spends eight hours a day with Patrick, said she simply wants to give the dog a home away from the limelight.
"This is about Patrick and about him having a good life going forward," she said.





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