Animal Torture is NOT acceptable - Maintain McKnight's Felony Conviction

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Ensure that Animal Torture is treated seriously in Sonoma County.

Ronald McKnight repeatedly abused and neglected his 4-month old puppy Daphne, including causing Daphne's leg to be broken three different times and intentionally abandoning her in a creek to die. McKnight plead no contest to his felony Animal Abuse charge. Now a judge may reduce the sentence to a misdemeanor which would eliminate any meaningful consequences for the torture he inflicted.

As the veterinarian for the county animal shelter I personally cared for this sweet, starving puppy and was tragically forced to amputate the painful, useless, triple-fractured leg.  The abuse inflicted upon Daphne was severe and irreversible. Sign this petition and together we will let Judge Conger and our community know that Animal Abuse needs to be treated seriously by upholding a Felony level sentence for Ronald McKnight. 

Thank you, 

Dr. Dan Famini

Read more about the details of McKnight's crimes in the press release from the District Attorney (link provided below) and in my personal letter to Judge Conger (pasted below).

District Attorney Press Release:

My letter to Judge Conger:

Re: Sentencing of Ronald McKnight in SCR 660041 (scheduled for 12/07/2015)
The purpose of this letter is to convey my profound concern upon hearing that you may mitigate the charges against Mr. McKnight for the acts of abuse he inflicted upon his puppy Daphne. Mr. McKnight’s crimes are not a single act of abuse, but rather a prolonged pattern of neglect and cruelty. The details of the puppy Daphne’s repeated and remorseless abuse clearly constitute a Felony level crime:

The first time Mr. McKnight’s actions broke his puppy’s leg it was near the knee. After days of her being in pain, Mr. McKnight actually took Daphne to Banfield Veterinary Hospital. He elected, however, to go against veterinary advice and common decency, choosing to do nothing and ignore his dog’s suffering. It was only through the intervention of a compassionate neighbor, who spent a few thousand dollars of her own on the puppy’s behalf, that Daphne’s initial injury was repaired at Santa Rosa Veterinary Hospital. 

Had Mr. McKnight provided basic, humane care during the post-surgery recovery, Daphne’s leg would have likely healed to a functional state. However, Mr. McKnight chose to subject the puppy to such poor conditions that he caused a second break at the tibial (shin) area of his dog’s leg.  Apparently McKnight valued his dog so little that he defaulted even on his charges for the initial consultation at Banfield that ultimately had to be sent to collections by the clinic. 

Around this time Mr. McKnight started lying to those who asked about Daphne. He later told both his neighbor who paid for Daphne’s surgery and the veterinary hospital that he had surrendered Daphne to a rescue group, but would never reveal any details. This lie clearly shows Mr. McKnight was acutely aware of the ethical action he should have taken. Daphne is a charismatic puppy and would have been welcomed by any shelter, rescue group or by McKnight’s neighbor. Instead, Mr. McKnight went out of his way to inflict further harm, driving to a cliffed creek bed and throwing the puppy into it where she would presumably starve to death. At or around the time of this action Daphne was subjected to a third break to her leg near the hip. 

When Daphne was eventually rescued, she was in an emaciated condition. She had lost several pounds at a time when a puppy of her age should be rapidly gaining in weight. A fetid, creek soaked bandage and non-functional splint was present causing greater pain and instability at some of her multiple fracture sites as well as dermatitis and skin infection. Her fractured leg was now profoundly atrophied, completely non-functional and painful.  Due to her injuries her leg had to be amputated. While she has an adequate quality of life with three legs, her lifespan will likely be years shorter as the greater wear on her one remaining hip will most likely be her life-limiting factor. 

There is one additional action that clearly demonstrates Mr. McKnight’s complete lack of remorse or basic regard for the dog whose bones his actions broke three times and then abandoned to die. Within a week of abandoning Daphne, Mr. McKnight traveled to Countryside Kennels and acquired a new puppy. There are undoubtedly dozens of additional details of cruelty and neglect that only Mr. McKnight and Daphne know. Mr. McKnight is extremely likely to have continued to subject this dog, and subsequent animals, to the same level of neglect and poor treatment. 

This summary of events is explicitly confirmed by the medical records of the three clinics that cared for Daphne and the details of her breaks and callouses on her x-rays. Mr. McKnight admitted to abandoning his puppy and confirmed his actions with the No Contest plea. As a veterinarian for Sonoma County Animal Services, I am sadly presented with animals that have been abused or criminally neglected on a regular, sometimes daily, frequency. What makes this case remarkable is not the cruelty, pain, and suffering that Daphne was subjected to, but the fact that we are able to confidently confirm details of Mr. McKnight’s repeated criminal actions both through medical records and his own admission. These actions clearly warrant serious consequences. Please put a halt to Mr. McKnight’s pattern of animal abuse and send a clear message to others that animal abuse is not acceptable.  Mr. McKnight’s actions rise to the level of a Felony crime, and so should his sentence. 

Dr. Dan Famini, DVM

Contract Veterinarian, Sonoma County Animal Care & Control

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