Frankie, the small terrier who was shot in the face and left to die in the fall of 2012, is enjoying the relative peace of his new home in Napa while his assailant pleaded no contest to a felony count of animal cruelty in a Placer County Superior Court Thursday.
Mark Pope was charged with the crime in a case that drew substantial local attention after the small dog was rehabilitated by Scooter’s Pals’ volunteers.
“We are almost at the end of this horrible saga with Frankie,” said Susan Wallace, executive director of Scooter’s Pals.
Frankie was found tied to a tree by a group of campers Sept. 14, 2012, near Foresthill after they heard him whimpering for two days. In addition to having been beaten, the dog had been shot in the face multiple times with a pellet gun. His jaw was broken with parts of the bone missing, and the toes on one foot were broken.
“Thank God for that camper,” Wallace said.
By pleading no contest, Pope is admitting to the facts of the case, said Placer County Deputy District Attorney Joe McInerney.
“He basically pled to what he was charged with,” McInerney said. “I am very satisfied.”
The difference between pleading no contest and guilty is that a no contest plea allows the defendant the opportunity to avoid a trail but prevents the plea from being used against the defendant in other criminal or civil proceedings.
Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. March 13 in Roseville. Pope could spend as much as three years in state prison, McInerney said.
“Candidly, this is a rare case, so we don’t really have precedent for sentencing,” he said.
“It was a very upsetting set of facts. The best part of the whole thing is that the dog has a good home and survived all of this. It’s kind of a miracle.”
The good home to which McInerney is referring is in Napa. Claudia Alexander, the current owner of Frankie, adopted the dog exactly one year to the date on Jan. 17.
“It is a relief (that he admitted to the facts of the case),” Alexander said. “I will feel even more relieved if he gets a sentence that is appropriate to the crime.”
Frankie is doing well, Alexander said.
“He is very loving and affectionate and such a sweet little guy,” she said. “He’s just very well behaved.”
The small terrier was wary of Alexander’s husband, John, and some of Claudia Alexander’s male grandchildren when he was first introduced to the house, but he has since dropped his guard as the men were very gentle and patient with the traumatized dog, Alexander said.
“He has a huge capacity to love,” Claudia Alexander said. “He is just a remarkable dog.”
The small terrier still displays some lingering effects from his life-threatening experience.
“He has nightmares and when they happen, they can be pretty profound,” Claudia Alexander said.
Frankie sometimes limps and favors the foot that was broken in the incident last year.
“Other than that he is a happy little boy,” she said. “He couldn’t be any more loved.”
Phone calls to the Placer County Public Defender’s Office were not returned as of press time Friday.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.