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Three Sentenced For Torture-Mutilation Killing Of Dog

March 10, 1995

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ Three men were sentenced to jail today, one for up to three years, for mutilating a Dalmatian before killing the dog by slashing its throat and cutting open its belly.

``It is the first time we’ve sent people to prison for cruelty to animals,″ Deputy District Attorney William Moore said. ``It sends a message to people that if you’re cruel to animals, you’re not going to get away with it.″

A jury in January found all three men guilty of mutilating and killing the 7-year-old dog named Duke.

Moore said the men tied Duke to a tree, taped his mouth shut and let a pit bull attack him. Two of the men cut off the dog’s ears and tail, slit its throat and sliced open its belly, the prosecutor said.

The men claimed the dog attacked them and that one of them hit Duke with a concrete block in self-defense.

Bucks County Common Pleas Judge Edward Biester sentenced Jan Pyatt to six months to 23 months in jail and Roy Elliott to nine months to 23 months for killing Duke. Jason Tapper was sentenced to 1 1/2 to three years.

Tapper and Elliott were convicted of cruelty to animals and conspiring to cruelty, and Pyatt was found guilty of conspiring to cruelty. All are in their early 20s.

Several hundred animal rights activists were at the courthouse, including Violet Aharonian, who held a sign calling for a death sentence.

``They took life, and their life should also be taken,″ she said.

The dog’s death inspired supporters to create a fund to pay for investigation of animal cruelty cases, which raised at least $16,000. They also printed bumper stickers with the slogan ``Justice For Duke.″

Mary Callahan, who had owned Duke, called the sentences ```fair and just.″ She gave the dog to the defendants in July because she was moving to an apartment that didn’t allow pets.

She added: ``I’m not happy, because it still doesn’t change what happened to Duke.″

Lawyers for Tapper and Elliott left without comment but told the judge they accepted the sentences.

``Considering the circumstances I was very pleased with the results,″ said Louis Bosico, Pyatt’s lawyer.

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