Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Slitting Pit Bull’s Throat And Posting Video Online Gets Off Without Jail Time [Opinion]

Drew AngererGetty Images

The act could be described as heinous, referring to two men from Arkansas, Steven Sadler and Boots Stanley, who worked together to create one of the most disturbing Snapchat videos in recent memory. Stanley watched and filmed as Sadler proceeded to slit his pit bull’s throat after the defenseless animal struggled to keep its balance atop a horse Stanley was riding.

Unfortunately, the video is still circulating online, via YouTube, though viewing it is not recommended. Within the short clip, Stanley laughs and Sadler murders the pit bull in cold blood. The act took several tries, reports a journalist from KETV. Initially, the duo was charged with one count each of aggravated animal cruelty, which seemed to fit the bill of their highly detested actions. Maximum sentencing for such a crime, were they convicted, would have carried a 10 year prison sentencing accompanied with a $25,000 fine. District Attorney Steve Tew expressed his opinion on the nature of the crime, insinuating his wish to see Sadler and Stanley see justice in an email.

“Given the inhumane and vicious nature of this crime, the District Attorney’s office requested that the judge impose a severe sentence commensurate with the crime. However, the District Attorney acknowledges that the Court has sole discretion in sentencing.”

Judge Carl Sharp proceeded over the recent hearing, allotting the offenders a considerably lighter punishment, which included probation, a fine, and community service, replacing a suspended three year prison sentence. Animal abuse such as this case is often perceived by animal rights advocates as deeply immoral, and despite these men pleading guilty, their punishment seems light in the hearts of many who have followed the men’s sadistic actions. Sadler is an avid hunter, who was not expected by officials to plead guilty since federal law prohibits felons from owning a gun.

On any given day, animals suffer abuse at the hands of their owners. Many are abandoned altogether, left to fend for themselves, which does not always end well. Some are used for dog fighting. Pit bulls especially are stigmatized and subject to cruel treatment, being unjustly reported to be dangerous animals, even though most would argue that this is a misrepresentation of a breed described by a study reported in The Atlantic, as less aggressive than chihuahuas. Chihuahuas face no such stigma, especially on a legislative level.

Staving pit bull being held by officer
Animal Control Sgt. Dylan Gates holds an emaciated pit bull, one of dozens of dead or starving pit bulls found at an abandoned home in the La Sierra, Calif., community of Riverside County. Featured image credit: John S. Welsh/Riverside County Department of Animal ServicesAP Images

Besides the three years probation, Stanley and Sadler have been handed a $5,000 fine and 480 hours of community service, says Lewis Unglesby, one of the attorneys representing Stanley. However, if the men simply donate the money toward their fine to Morehouse Parish Humane Society, their community service hours will shaved be in half.

Let it also be noted that Judge Sharp ruled these two men are only barred from owning an animal for a single year.

Advocates against animal cruelty later named the victimized pit bull Justice, states In Defense of Animals. Justice never resisted, likely because dogs generally obey their masters, regardless of circumstances and their own well-being. Prior to pleading guilty, Sadler and Stanley used a preposterous defense. The two and their attorneys cited Bastrop, Louisiana’s “dangerous dog ordinance,” claiming to be well within their rights to kill Justice since the dog was at large and without a muzzle.