New York man hangs pit bull from tree because it had become aggressive towards him and his daughter
After his conviction, 48-year-old Robert Overton Jr. will become the first offender to be placed on the animal abuser registry in Chautauqua County.
A New York man who confessed to killing his pit bull by hanging it from a tree was ordered to spend one year in prison for the crime. Forty eight-year-old Robert Overton Jr. pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated cruelty to animals at the Chautauqua County Court and was handed down the sentence by Judge David Foley on Monday, March 4.
According to WREN, a passerby found the dog, named Champagne, hanging from a tree in Jamestown, New York, in April 2018. Overton turned himself to the police later in the same month after he was recorded admitting in an interview that he was the person responsible for the crime but also insisting that he had only done so to protect his children.
"The dog made a couple of attempts to be aggressive," he said. "The first time, he bit me, which is fine because dogs do that. The second time, he went after my daughter and he bit her on the butt but never broke the skin."
He said the third time the pit bull showed aggression, he took the drastic step of killing it.
"The third time it happened, he got aggressive with me at about 2-2:30 in the morning, and when you're dealing with spur of the moment things, you're dealing with life or death," he continued. "It's about me and my kids and that dog, and I chose my kids."
Overton confessed he did not consider calling the Humane Society after the third attack. "When the dog got aggressive, it was me against the animal," he said. "It wasn't me against the family dog anymore. It was me against the animal and protecting the family."
The 48-year-old admitted Champagne deserved a proper burial and said his actions were a result of "the heat of the moment."
However, he denied he had a history of violence against animals, revealing he had cared for many pit bulls and that dogs had been therapeutic and helped him to avoid violating the terms of his release during a parole sting. However, there were many who criticized the lenient sentence.
Following his sentencing, Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson hit back at those criticizing the apparent leniency of Overton's jail term and said it was in the hands of the public to ensure that laws surrounding animal cruelty become more strict.
"This case reminds us of the deficiencies in New York State law," he was quoted saying by WREN. "Many people believe that this level of punishment is insufficient. What I say to those folks is that they need to contact their state representatives and push for change. The actions of this man were dreadful. But two years was the maximum potential punishment under our law. The court sentenced him to a jail term that we are pleased given the law."
Overton will also become the first offender to be placed on the animal abuser registry in Chautauqua County, said Swanson.