VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – The man who beat a puppy to death in a case that sparked public outrage and led to the creation of Ponce’s law was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail and three years of probation.
The 9-month-old Labrador was found gagged and bleeding from his mouth in the backyard of Travis Archer’s Ponce Inlet home in April 2017. Archer told police that the puppy made a mess in the house and when he went to discipline him, the dog bit his hand.
Records show Archer admitted to throwing the puppy against a wall and punching him at least twice.
The puppy died as a result of his injuries. Archer was arrested on an aggravated animal cruelty charge.
On Wednesday, a judge withheld adjudication of guilt, meaning that Archer’s record will not reflect that he is a convicted felon as long as he completes his sentence. Archer also agreed to never own a pet again.
He said he loved his dog.
“My reaction to being bit was inexcusable. I did not exhibit the restraints that I should have. I overreacted,” Archer said.
“Justice for Ponce” demonstrators packed the seats when Archer appeared in court in 2017, demanding a change to the state’s animal cruelty laws.
As a result of the outcry, then Gov. Rick Scott signed Ponce’s law into effect in April 2018. The legislation prohibits offenders from owning pets. It also increased the severity ranking of an animal abuse-related crime, making it more likely that abusers will serve jail time.
“I’m happy and pleased with the passing of Ponce’s law as a result of this. Unfortunately, something terrible had to happen for this to come about, but out of something bad, something good came out of it,” animal activist Debbie Darino said.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza agreed.
“The defendant’s attack of his pet companion Ponce was brutal and deadly. The silver lining of this case is that the legislature increased the possible penalty for future crimes of this nature. Justice equals accountability and that was achieved today,” Larizza said.