WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Even though a jury in April convicted him of three felony and 17 misdemeanor counts of animal abuse, Scott Kipp on Thursday insisted he loves dogs and that county officials over-reacted to the makeshift kennel he created at his Lake Worth storage yard.
And, just in case Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Karen Miller doubted his word, he called more than a dozen friends to attest to his stellar character and unflagging devotion to his dogs.
As more than 11 grim-faced county Animal Care and Control Officers looked on, Kipp's friends, including an Elvis impersonator, a former Marine and an aspiring singer, paraded to the podium in hopes of saving Kipp from a lengthy prison term.
"He loves his dogs. His dogs are his life," said Delray Beach resident Barbara Owens, echoing Kipp's other friends.
Lt. Daisy Harsch of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control said citations dating back to 1992 paint a different picture. "He may portray himself as a humanitarian, and he may be toward humans, but with his animals, it's a totally different story," she told Miller.
In July 2009, the agency seized 23 Shar Peis and Rottweilers, including puppies, from Kipp's storage yard at Second Avenue North and Boutwell Road. Two had to be euthanized. Many had burns caused by sitting or standing in urine. Some had untreated eye problems. One dog was grievously sick because puppies she was carrying died inside of her.
Kipp, 51, acknowledged he let that dog, named Barbie, "get ahead of me." He said he resisted the agency's years-long corrective efforts because it euthanizes animals.
Miller said the agency doesn't seize animals just to kill them. If sick dogs don't respond to treatment, they have no option, she said.
Kipp's attorney Bryan Raymond said Kipp didn't deserve to be sent to jail. Prosecutors pushed for a five-year sentence.
After a two-hour hearing, Miller sentenced Kipp to six months in jail and five years of probation. While he can keep the five dogs a judge returned to him and a bird and a cat he owns, Miller said he can't own any more animals for five years. Before trial, he rejected a plea deal that called for no jail time.
Assistant State Attorney Angela Miller said agents have seen worse cases of abuse. But, she said, few have flouted the law for so long.
"The significance of him is the long-standing issues that Animal Care and Control kept bringing to his attention and he kept not correcting," she said.
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