Ligonier Township woman sentenced for dog law violations
By Jewels Phraner
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 5:09 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013
In an unusual move, a Ligonier Township woman has been ordered to serve five days under county supervision after repeatedly violating the township's dog laws.
Cheryl Sierocki, 54, was sentenced earlier this week to at least five days in jail or some alternative program for violating a term of her probation that prohibited her from keeping dogs at her Friendship Lane property.
Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanigan said township police and Sierocki's probation officer had seen and photographed Dots, a Dalmatian, on Sierocki's property, in violation of the order from Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze.
“I'm not defending myself, I understand what Judge Pezze had to do,” Sierocki said. “I thought I was off my probation. Dots was just visiting. She wasn't living here permanently.”
Flanigan said he asked for a more stringent sentence.
“I've certainly never heard of someone going to jail for a dog law violation,” Flanigan said. “But this woman has a 10-year history of dog law violations. It was a unique case, and I asked for a unique sentence.”
The probation was set for a 2008 case. Sierocki pleaded guilty to five counts of failing to keep the Dalmatian and a mixed-breed dog confined to her property in exchange for three years probation. Pezze said the probation would terminate in 18 months if there were no further problems with the dogs.
A little more than a year later, Sierocki's probation was revoked after officers found the dogs on her property.
She was resentenced to four years probation and she was ordered to not keep, maintain or permit anyone else's dogs on her property.
The Dalmatian returned last October, Flanigan said.
Court records indicate Sierocki has a history of letting her dogs roam free in the neighborhood, off Cool Springs Lane. She received 16 citations in the last six years for failing to keep the canines confined to her yard.
In the affidavit of probable cause in the 2008 incident, neighbors told police they were “terrorized” by the dogs.
But Sierocki said the dogs were family pets.
“Neither dog was ever cited for biting anyone,” she said. “My neighbor has me on 24-hour surveillance. I thought this lynching was over, and it's unfortunate that a nice neighborhood has come to this.”
Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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