With the possible exception of politicians, no one is more defiant or less remorseful after a conviction than animal abusers.
Thieves, drug dealers, child pornographers and criminals of other stripes usually go quietly into their dark night.
But individuals convicted of animal abuse - not simply charged - on the strength of mountains of visual evidence and witness testimony, turn on the authorities, file lawsuits and mount PR campaigns proclaiming their innocence.
I'm thinking of Linda Bruno (aka Lin Marie) who tortured and killed thousands of cats in her "sanctuary" known asTiger Ranch. When she was busted in 2008 by the Pennsylvainia SPCA her supporters launched a social media crusade against the PSPCA, even as images showed hundreds of sick and dying cats and mass graves on her Pittsburgh area property.
I'm thinking of puppy mill operator John Blank who ran Limestone Kennel in Chester County who was busted by the PSPCA. in 2008 and even after pleading guilty sued the organization for "violating his constitutional rights." The video of a Shiba Inu, bleeding to death from an open wound in her neck haunts me to this day. (She was rescued in the nick of time and survived.)
And now, Marjorie Bamont, of Philadelphia, whose house was raided by the PSPCA in Oct. after years of complaints. They removed 14 flea-ridden and emaciated cats and one dog living in utter squalor. Officers found one dead cat in the foyer.
She was convicted in absentia Thursday on 14 counts of cruelty, ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution and forbidden from owning pets for 42 months.
Her otherwise sadly routine hoarding case drew media coverage because she occupies the house formerly owned by actress Grace Kelly.
Bamont didn't show up for her trial because of a "mix up" her lawyer told my colleague, Stephanie Farr of the Daily News. Attorney Jack McMahon said that he will "defend her vigorously" when they return to court. (He argues that in summary and misdemeanor cases the defendant has the right to a "de novo" trial which nullifies the earlier verdict.)
McMahon and Bamont blamed the fact she occupies the Kelly house as reason her case was "sensationalized."
"They made me out to be a crazy person who lived in filth and squalor," she said. "I have to get my animals back and clear my name."
Others too have blamed the media or blamed the arresting agency for hyping up the charges.
Only now defiance in the face of conviction has a price. Thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Corbett this summer, animal abusers who do not forfeit their pets will have to pay for the cost of their care for the duration of the court proceedings.