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Yatesboro man gets 1-year probation

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Yatesboro man was sentenced to one-year probation Tuesday for shooting a house cat with an arrow last year.

George Eric Eckman, 40, apologized to the victims, who were present in court yesterday, saying that he is in family counseling with his 12-year-old son who was present at the time of the shooting.

"I understand what I did was stupid," Eckman said.

Investigators said that Eckman shot the cat in a wooded area along Fifth Street on Oct. 6, 2008. The cat succumbed to its injuries about a week later. Eckman pleaded guilty to a charge of animal cruelty in April.

He was denied the opportunity to participate in a probationary program that would expunge the charge from his record because of the unusual circumstances of the offense, according to assistant district attorney George Kepple. Eckman has no prior criminal record.

A mandatory fine of $1,000 was imposed, and the defendant was ordered to pay $2,815 in restitution. Eckman said he has already paid $1,200 in restitution.

In a victim impact statement, Rose Zajac and Dave Kovach said their cat, Autumn, was exploring their property line when she was shot. The pair heard the cat crying and saw the arrow that had "completely penetrated Autumn's body from side to side," the statement read.

Zajac and Kovach took Autumn to Animal Medical Pavilion in East Franklin for surgery. The cat was euthanized on Oct. 14 after three surgeries in attempts to repair the damage, they said.

Treating veterinarian Dr. David Meleason asked for a harsh punishment in a letter to the court dated April 30. Meleason said he and his colleagues see many cases of animal cruelty and abuse.

"Lenient punishment will cause future cases since there appears to be no serious consequences for committing these acts," he said.

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