September 2, 2014

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Man gets four months in jail, fine for fatally stabbing dog

OBERLIN — The Lakewood man found guilty of fatally stabbing a family dog to death March 10 was sentenced to four months in jail and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine Thursday by Oberlin Municipal Court Judge Thomas A. Januzzi.

Gerald Miller also was ordered to serve five years of “intensive probation,” the most permitted by law for a misdemeanor conviction and to pay $350 restitution to the dog’s Amherst owners, Bob and Jean Danicki.

He also was required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and receive counseling and to take part in a family anger assessment management program.

“A dog is much more valuable than that, but the law still defines animals as property, even though I’m sure this dog was priceless in terms of her emotional value,” Januzzi said.

Januzzi, who suspended 60 days of an original 180-day jail term, called the stabbing “one of the most disturbing, if not the most disturbing, case that has come before the court in the past 12 years.”

Miller pleaded no contest and was found guilty July 6 to a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to companion animals.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, Miller apologized.

“It’s too little too late, but I want to say how sorry I am,” Miller said. “This is one of the few regrets I have in my life.”

Miller had told authorities he stabbed the family’s 5-year-old shepherd-chow mix named Maya after he said the dog attacked his daughter’s small pomeranian as they walked by the Danickis’ home in Amherst. The Danickis disputed his account, however, saying they saw Miller walk by the home before returning to stab the dog with an open pocket knife.

“If he was truly fearful, he had the opportunity to avoid it,” Jean Danicki said. “This didn’t have to happen.”

Maya died on the way to a veterinarian.

Miller’s attorney Gerald Smith said Miller carried the pocket knife as protection after he had been attacked by dogs in the past while working as a postal carrier. Smith also told Januzzi that Miller called police immediately after stabbing the dog to report the incident and then waited for them to arrive.

Januzzi said Miller had no criminal history and was an honorably discharged 12-year Army veteran.

The defendant was ordered to begin serving his sentence at the county jail 6 p.m. July 26.

Despite the loss of their pet, the Danickis have begun to move on.

“We have a new puppy,” Bob Danicki said of a shepherd mixed-breed the family got from a rescue group in Vermilion.

“He has a curly tail and floppy ears,” Jean Danicki said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

  • nomokids

    My thoughts are with everyone involved — thoughts of gratitude for the judge for validating the value of animals to our society; loving thoughts to the Danicki family for healing and for rescuing another animal in their grief; and thoughts of sadness to Miller and his family — I hope your children don’t learn from your actions this time.

    • KZ14

      Bla Bla Bla

  • SweetScarlet

    THANK YOU!! Thank you, Judge Januzzi, for respecting the deep relationship families have with their pets, and understanding that they are so much more than just “property.” Thank you for sending a message that animal cruelty and abuse will not be tolerated in Ohio. Let’s hope that everyone can move on from this and be better for it.

  • KZ14

    A dog off the leash but they loved her, give me a break the guy was using his military experience and training to protect himself and his Daughter. Where was the leash?

    • SweetScarlet

      Actually, I have been in that situation–My dog vs. a neighbor’s Doberman. I was scared out of my mind, but able to kick the dog and use my voice to get it away from my dog. Further, the dog that was murdered was in her own YARD. FURTHER, the guy had to cross the street to get to her.

      • KZ14

        What a voice you must have. Been there myself so give me a break