St. Charles District Attorney Joel Chiasson II said the five-year sentence handed down to Rashard C. Poche was intended to send a loud message to anyone who might even think of mistreating an animal in the future: it simply will not be tolerated.
“This conviction sends a strong message that perpetrators of crimes such as this will be vigorously prosecuted by my office,” Chiasson said of last week’s sentencing. “I want to commend the excellent work of my prosecutor and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office in securing this conviction.”
Poche, 37, got the five-year prison sentence after he pled guilty to one count of aggravated cruelty to animals for throwing a six-pound Chihuahua named JoJo against the wall and then stomping on the animal.
The Killona man was arrested Feb. 20 and indicted by the St. Charles Parish Grand Jury on the cruelty charge. Poche pled guilty to the charge Aug. 6 and was sentenced by Judge M. Lauren Lemmon to five years with the Louisiana Department of Corrections, consecutive to one year of parole revocation. He is also required to undergo a psychological evaluation and prohibited from owning, keeping or possessing animals for five years after his release.
Poche was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Rochelle Champagne Fahrig.
“He had a couple of felonies on his record already that indicated a history of violence,” said Fahrig. “When someone takes a six-pound dog and throws it against a wall and stomps on it … you have to ask, where do you draw the line, if you can’t stop it there? We want to prevent something like that happening to another animal. For someone who has shown a history of being a violent person, we felt that was a good sentence.”
Fahrig said she felt strongly for the owner of the dog, who had to deal with the sudden loss of a beloved pet.“She was distraught,” Fahrig said. “We hated to see the hurt it caused her. We hope this (sentence) sends a really strong message.”
Poche was apparently arguing with his girlfriend, who was dog sitting JoJo for a friend, when he apparently became angry with the dog barking. He threw it against the wall and then “stomped” on him, according to the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office.
The dog was treated by a veterinarian, but euthanized when it was determined his injuries were untreatable.Poche was initially arrested, charged with misdemeanor charges and posted bail.
But the Sheriff’s Office, after it received information from the veterinarian about how the dog died and consulted the DA’s office, sought a new warrant on him on federal anti-cruelty charges. He was arrested again and held on $40,000 bond.
Estimates by the Humane Society of Animals suggest this kind of case isn’t all that rare.
The HSUS estimates that nearly 1 million animals a year are abused or killed in connection with domestic violence. 71 percent of domestic violence victims report that their abuser also targeted their animal.
In media-reported animal cruelty cases, dogs—and pit bull-type dogs, in particular—are the most common victims of animal cruelty. Of 1,880 cruelty cases reported in the media in 2007, 64.5 percent (1,212) involved dogs, 18 percent (337) involved cats and 25 percent (470) involved other animals.