Suspect in puppy-beating case that inspired Ponce's law pleads no contest

Dog's body released to police department for proper burial

PONCE INLET, Fla. – More than two years after the alleged crime, 46-year-old Travis Archer appeared in court Monday and plead no contest to third-degree felony animal cruelty.

Archer's plea was good news for those who have made it their mission to hold accused animal abusers responsible.

The Ponce Inlet police Chief and Justice for Ponce activists were also in court and listened to the judge as she told Archer that he could face up to one year in jail.

[RELATED: How Ponce's law will help protect Florida pets]

"This is two and a half years, so I'm very relieved to see that. They tried everything they could through appeals to get this case thrown out on technicalities, so I'm really glad to see that he realizes he has nothing left. He needs to plea to the crime that he plead to," Chief Frank Fabrizio said.

Ponce Inlet police said Archer fatally beat a Labrador puppy named Ponce in April of 2017. Officers arrived after a neighbor reported hearing suspicious sounds. Police found the battered dog in Archer's backyard.

Fabrizio said the department will be planning a proper burial for Ponce now that the judge has released his body to the police department. He said so far, the state has paid nearly $8,000 to store Ponce, but that could soon change.

"As part of the sentencing, they're going to ask that Archer pay the storage fee," he said.

Debbie Darino was also in court and is the driving force behind Ponce's Law, which went into effect in October 2018. The law increases a person's chance to face jail time if convicted of animal cruelty and allows judges to ban them from owning animals.

"It's been two and half years and we're ready for justice to be served for Ponce's killing," Darino said. "I hope that sends a real clear message that the courts are not going to just let you off easy anymore."

Archer will be sentenced at a later date.

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