A Cedar Springs, Michigan man found guilty of animal abuse in October for the disturbing killing of a cat outside of his trailer home last April was sentenced to prison time Tuesday.
The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office says Michael Patrick Stackhouse will spend between 16 months and eight years in prison after stomping on a cat in front of a horrified crowd of neighbors on April 11.
Stackhouse was sentenced Tuesday, November 18 in Kent County Circuit Court after being found guilty by a jury of felony animal abuse causing death on October 8. Stackhouse’s previous criminal convictions for drug crimes, second-degree criminal sexual conduct and receiving and concealing stolen items worked to his detriment at sentencing.
Stackhouse had hoped to avoid prison and had asked the judge to give him county jail time with work release to the Kent County Animal Shelter instead of prison time.
The cat, named Luna, was thrown from the door to Stackhouse’s home and landed in gruesome condition. Stackhouse was then seen to stomp on her head outside by a crowd of neighbors, including children. He maintains he didn’t mean to hurt the cat and was putting her out of her misery.
Defense attorney James Milanowski said his client’s stomping of the cat’s head was an “act of mercy,” and said the cat invaded Stackhouse’s home, where his infant child and severely allergic wife were inside at the time.
“The cat came into my house. I was just trying to defend my house. My wife, she’s allergic to cats,” Stackhouse said in April. “It was fighting with my dog. I got tiny kids. I don’t know what that cat is going to do. I didn’t know nothing about this cat.”
Stackhouse told his version of the story to FOX 17 on April 11.
A veterinarian testified that Luna suffered blunt force injuries and a broken neck that probably occurred before she was thrown from the home.
MLive.com covered the case and Tuesday’s sentencing and noted the judge’s sentiments on the deceased cat’s legal status as a piece of personal property rather than a living being.
The MLive.com’s Barton Deiters wrote:
On Tuesday, the judge noted that under Michigan law, a cat is considered property, not a sentient being.
“Luna is treated under the law as if she were a table lamp or some other piece of personal property,” said Johnston, adding that perhaps it is time for the law to recognize the special status of pets.
Johnston said because of that, Stackhouse escaped some of the penalties that come with committing a crime against a person.
Prior to his sentencing, Stackhouse wept and apologized, begging the judge to give him county jail time with work release to the Kent County Animal Shelter.
“I’m not the animal everyone thinks I am,” Stackhouse said. “I don’t hate animals at all.”
“Prison would kill me and my family,” Stackhouse said, as his wife wept in the courtroom gallery.
Stackhouse’s plea to work at the animal shelter drew groans from the half-dozen animal advocates on the prosecution’s side of the courtroom.
The group was happy with the sentence, saying they hope it acts as a deterrent.
Grandville resident Carolyn Matheson, who has been present at court since the case first came to light, said she is relieved by the sentence.
While this is not a case that will change law, she said it has garnered attention and hopefully will change some minds about the laws that govern animal abuse.
“Baby steps,” Matheson said.
For more details, you can read the MLive.com account of sentencing in full here.