VERO BEACH — A mother and daughter who used their dogs to kill a farm-raised pig in their backyard in 2011 are being punished with two months in county jail and they have to serve 30 months of probation, Circuit Judge Robert Pegg ruled on Monday.
Janice and Ashley Ramirez, 21, also must each pay $1,000 to the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County.
Pegg withheld ruling the two women guilty of charges of torturing the 40-pound pig and enticing their two dogs to attack it.
Neither woman commented during the sentencing that was part of a plea deal reached in January — in a case that gained social media attention and strong public reaction.
That included the women getting two anonymous letters that their attorney, Andy Metcalf, called death threats.
A person in Ohio sent the women a letter saying they should be tied to a pickup truck and dragged through the streets, Metcalf said after the court hearing.
A second threatening letter, which was less specific, was postmarked in Indian River County, he said. Because the letters were unsigned, law enforcement officials weren't able to investigate the authors.
Sheriff's investigators first learned of the pig killing through a five-minute video of it that Ashley Ramirez posted on her Facebook site on March 3, 2011. It showed dogs attacking a pig that had its mouth taped shut.
The video showed Janice Ramirez, 56, telling the dogs to "Get him! Bite him!" as the pig squealed.
The women contended they were training their dogs for pig hunting, Metcalf said. Afterward the women cooked and ate the pig.
Before the plea deal, the mother and daughter each could have faced 10 years in jail, court records show.
Metcalf said it was the women's reflections on the killing that led to their entering no contest pleas to charges in January.
"They apologize for the method they used in training their dog," Metcalf said. "They feel bad."
No members of the public spoke before Pegg ruled in the case on Monday.
When asked how the two women erred legally, Metcalf said it was their setting the dogs on the pig in their enclosed backyard in a residential area in the 2300 block of 84th Court.
The public, he said, should realize there is a hunting culture in the county. People hunt and dogs are used in hunting.
After their arrest, the county took the two women's mixed-breed dogs that were used in the attack. Investigators also found at the home 10 pit bull dogs and one Chihuahua, all of which were turned over to the mother's ex-husband.
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