October 17, 2007

Atkind ’06 Sentenced to Six Months for Dog Abuse

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Alexander Atkind ’06 was sentenced to six months in prison and five years probation yesterday in Tompkins County Court, one month after pleading guilty to felony charges that he abused his roommate’s dog last March.
Atkind admitted to most of the allegations contained in a felony indictment dated May 8 that charged the fifth-year Cornell senior with beating and pouring bleach on a Labrador-pit bull mix over the weekend of March 9, leaving the dog with diminished eyesight for life. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of overdriving, torturing and injuring an animal at the time of his March 10 arrest, but District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson made a successful push to bring felony charges in the case amid mounting pressure from local and national animal rights groups.
According to yesterday’s sentence, Atkind will be subject to a $5,000 fine and mandatory psychiatric evaluation and treatment in addition to prison time and probation. He must also agree not to own, care for or reside in a home with any pets. Atkind faced up to two years in prison after his guilty plea last month, but Wilkinson recommended a lighter sentence.
Currently, Atkind is serving another six-month prison term in Tioga County Jail on an unrelated drug charge. He will begin serving his six-month prison sentence for animal abuse after he completes his term in Tioga County.
Atkind’s case drew the attention of animal rights organizations from around the country, including the Humane Society of the United States, which drafted a letter to Wilkinson on March 19 calling on the D.A. to bring felony charges against the Cornell senior. The Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was also involved in the case, housing the injured dog after her release from Cornell’s veterinary hospital. The SPCA will receive Atkind’s $5,000 fine.
Wilkinson initially indicated she would seek a felony indictment in the case at Atkind’s March 23 arraignment. The D.A. said later that the cruel nature of Atkind’s actions and the extent of the dog’s injuries warranted a felony charge.