Patrick the pooch's owner pleads not guilty

May 6, 2011 2:32:49 PM PDT
Patrick the pit bull remains on the mend in New Jersey, while his former owner pleaded not guilty to animal abuse charges Friday.

A grim-faced Keisha Curtis walked past animal rights activist in the courtroom to her public defender who told the judge that Curtis still proclaims her innocence.

Prosecutors plan to move forward with the cruelty and neglect charges against her.

"Our office is currently preparing the case to present it to a grand jury," said Thomas Fennelly, the Assistant Prosecutor.

Outside the courthouse, dozens of Patrick supporters rallied at both entrances with pets, and pictures of Patrick.

"Everyone is here today to stop with the abuse, and more laws need to be put into place in New Jersey," said Allison Ognibene, a Sparta resident.

Patrick was emaciated, when he was found starved, barely alive, at the bottom of a trash chute in an 18-story Newark high-rise, the day before St. Patrick's Day.

After weeks of intensive care at a veterinary hospital, he's gained weight, and he's thriving.

His plight catapulted animal abuse awareness worldwide, raising thousands of dollars on social network sites.

"We're happy that people are recognizing the fact that there's a cruelty problem in America. In New Jersey we've done about 5,500 cruelty investigations in 2010," said Frank Rizzo, of the New Jersey SPCA.

Animal control officer Arthur Skinner, who rescued Patrick, pretty much had rock star status with activists.

Curtis claims she left the dog tied up outside the building, that someone else must have thrown the 1-year-old pit bull, down the chute.

She's free on $10,000 bail.

It's going to be some time before this case is resolved.

A grand jury is expects to review it within the next few months to decide if Curtis should even be tried.