Four years ago my life changed when I was removed from an abusive home. After being repeatedly tortured for 9 months, I suffered 11 fractured bones, a broken heart and a lifeless soul. Today I am healed, safe and loved.
– from Liberating Livvy
The veterinarian who nursed a brutally abused cat back to health, helped heal kitty’s spirit and gave her a loving home is not happy with the outcome of the abuser’s court case.
Livvy – short for Olivia – was tormented over a period of months by former Saginaw, MI resident Randy DeJarnette, who also abused his girlfriend and psychologically traumatized another cat in the home. An incident in May 2011 brought things to a head, got the cats out of their abusive home, and saw DeJarnette flee from Saginaw, leaving charges against him unanswered. The girlfriend called police on DeJarnette and Saginaw County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Garabelli went to the home and filed a report.
“Randy grabbed the white cat and punched it in the head with his fist,” the girlfriend said in her statement to the police. “He then kicked the cat across the room.”
The kick sent Livvy flying across the room, where she lay still.
The woman said that after his attack on the cat, she and DeJarnette were in a car when the abuser bit her on the nose, drawing blood.
Livvy and the other cat, an orange tabby, came into the care of Dr. Tina Roggenbeck when the woman brought them to her practice, Veterinary Health Center, in Saginaw Township following the incident. Dr. Roggenbeck adopted both cats and is their advocate.
Livvy’s torture was easily the worst case of animal abuse Dr. Roggenbeck had ever seen. In addition to her other injures, Livvy’s hind end and legs were so badly damaged she was unable to move them and had to drag herself by her front paws. Dr. Roggenbeck’s observations on Livvy’s condition, and her reaction, can be seen in detail below in her IMPACT STATEMENT PRESENTED TO JUDGE BOES.
Dr. Roggenbeck has worked tirelessly to try to get justice for Livvy, using the Liberating Livvy page at Facebook to rally and inform supporters to the cause.
DeJarnette was finally located three and a half years after his final incident of cruelty toward Livvy. He was arraigned on August 28, 2014, in Saginaw County District Court on one count of killing or torturing an animal and one count of domestic violence second offense.
The girlfriend declined to press charges in 2011 on the domestic violence charge, telling police she did not want to upset her abuser.
DeJarnette made a plea arrangement with the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office, in exchange for greatly reduced charges. He pleaded no contest to domestic violence second offense and a charge of animal abandonment/abuse, a misdemeanor.
According to a story at MLive: DeJarnette was sentenced to two years of probation and 180 days in jail, which he can complete using a GPS tether, Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Janet Boes ruled April 14. Probation includes several conditions, including one that he can not own an animal or live with anyone who does. He must attend counseling. Additionally, he was ordered to pay restitution and other costs.
Dr. Roggenbeck and other advocate seeking justice for Livvy are greatly disappointed with this outcome.
An online petition to “send a message to Saginaw County’s Prosecuting Attorney to let them know plea bargains for REPEATED ANIMAL TORTURE are NOT ACCEPTABLE!” gathered over 7,500 signatures, and Dr. Roggenbeck provided a detailed and powerfully affecting impact statement to the court, but those efforts seem to have had little impact on the resolution to the case.
“To say I am disappointed by your decision to offer Randy DeJarnette a plea bargain for repeated, intentional and malicious animal torture that led to permanent maiming and disfigurement of a cat in Saginaw County is an understatement,” Dr. Roggenbeck wrote in a letter to prosecutor John McColgan Jr. before the sentencing.
“As a veterinarian, an animal lover and advocate for the voiceless, I am appalled by the ‘free pass’ Saginaw County Prosecutors hand out to animal torturers.”
Dr. Roggenbeck delivered a tearful speech during DeJarnette’s sentencing.
The MLive story, which was published today, gives voice to Dr. Roggenbeck’s position on the case and refocuses attention to DeJarnette’s little victim.
“The prosecutor’s office did the right thing,” John E. Melton, DeJarnette’s attorney, is quoted saying in the MLive story , “and fashioned a punishment to protect the public and allow my client, who admitted what he did was wrong, to be put in a position to make it right.
“Randy took the full responsibility for his actions. What else can he do? He’s admitted what he’s done was wrong, and he’s taking full responsibility for his actions. I think it’s time to let him do that.
“He can’t go back in time and change.”
Melton says DeJarnette had improved his life between 2011 and 2014 and was unaware of the warrants against him but contacted the attorney when he learned of them and then surrendered to police.
Melton went one step further, and perhaps a step too far, by criticizing those advocating for Livvy and acusing them of seeking publicity for Dr. Roggenbeck’s veterinary practice.
He criticized some of the people drawing attention to the story and accused them of trying to get publicity for the veterinarian’s office.
For more on Livvy and her friend Squirty, and the efforts on their behalf, please visit the Liberating Livvy page at Facebook.
IMPACT STATEMENT PRESENTED TO JUDGE BOES by Dr. Tina Roggenbeck
The image of human teeth marks on both sides of a battered woman’s bruised and swollen nose and the sound of long, low piercing moans of pain emanating from a pet carrier are just as clear today as they were on May 18th, 2011. You never forget the victims or the people that brutalize them. Instead, you tuck them away in a remote compartment of your brain to save your sanity and protect your emotional well-being. Today, that compartment has been unlocked and I stand here before the court reliving the nightmare that victimized the woman, 2 cats, my staff and my -entire family. On that Wednesday afternoon almost 4 years ago, nothing could have prepared me for what I would hear, see or feel.
“The white one may be hurt, Randy punched her in the head 3 times,” DeJarnette’s girlfriend said. When I peeked inside the carrier, I saw 2 small cats huddled together and cowering in the back. At barely six pounds, the female was thin. There was bruising over her right orbital bone and a large, soft tissue swelling was present over the frontal bone of her skull. The sclera, the white region of the eyeball, had a visible hemorrhage just below a swollen upper eyelid. Between grinding her teeth and vocalizing in pain, she panted. Her tiny body trembled beneath my hands and when I reached a large swelling over her right hip, she let out a loud, agonizing cry. Startled, I jerked my hands away. As I stood and stared at her quivering battered body, I wondered how it felt looking into her eyes and punching her in the face.
When we set her on the floor, she immediately collapsed, turned her head to look over her shoulder, and in an attempt to flee, dragged her crippled hindquarters across the floor using only her front legs. No one talked, no one moved—we all looked on in disbelief.
The X-ray showed that both of her rear legs had complete fractures at the femoral neck—neither leg was attached to the pelvis. Instead, they dangled from her body like the limbs of a limp marionette. Tiny bone fragments had shattered off the left femur, and the right femur was displaced about an inch away from the joint in a forward and upward direction. In my head, I could hear her bones snap—first one, then the other. When I looked at her thorax, I saw multiple fractured ribs—7 total—that were at different stages of healing indicating that she had been tortured more than once. Two independent board-certified veterinary radiologists verified my findings with an additional discovery of bone remodeling on spinous processes of T5 and T6, thoracic vertebra near her shoulders—most likely healed fractures from yet another incident. Yes, the white one was hurt. For months, this tiny, living, breathing being had endured the repetitive torture and excruciating pain that I could only appreciate on the films: for months, one body part would heal only to have another broken.
For six weeks we performed a series of 5 grueling rehabilitation exercises 3-5 times daily with 15 repetitions of each exercise per set. For six weeks we watched her urinate and defecate in a lying position. For 6 weeks we cried. Today, she has to sit to urinate and prop herself up on the back of the litter box to defecate. Today, she walks with a stilted gait and has to rest between every 6 or 8 steps. Today, she lives in chronic pain from being repeatedly tortured, battered and broken, but today, she is safe and loved. Today, she has a name.
The cat your girlfriend referred to as the “orange one” or the “boy cat,” suffered no physical trauma but emotionally, was in shock. For two weeks he had to be force-fed. For 4 weeks he shrank away from any human contact and his body jerked and twitched and he cowered whenever he was approached. For 6 weeks, he spent his days hiding inside the boxsprings of a bed in my home—at night, he came out to eat. Today, he craves human contact. Today, he shares food from our plates. Today, he is safe and loved. Today, he has a name.
The crimes committed by Randy DeJarnette were recurrent and intentional. We will never forget the fear we saw in the eyes of both cats on May 18th, 2011. We will never forget the horror we felt watching Liv drag her badly battered, bruised and broken body across the floor in an attempt to flee. We will never forget the incident that impacted their lives and ours.
To this day, I am amazed by Liv’s will to survive and inspired by her capacity to forgive…there in lies the beauty of an animal’s ability to love unconditionally. We could all learn from the lessons they teach us.
Tina Roggenbeck, DVM