Justice for Alice: Man seeks to change animal cruelty laws in Washington after dog killed by stranger

John Craig Hickey has always been an animal lover with lots of pets, but he says his Jack Russel Terrier Alice, was special.

"We used to take her up to Harborview to visit patients and she would climb into their laps," Hickey said. "She did a lot of good."

A service dog, a best friend, and as Hickey puts it, his family. He had Alice for 14 years before police say a man named Courtney Williams, kicked her in the Courthouse Park in an unprovoked attack that led to her death. Hickey didn’t know Williams, but he says his actions have changed his life forever. 

"There’s days when I will go home and I feel like I have to take her out to walk l her or I have to feed her, or I think I can hear her, but she's not there I will never be the same."

Williams could be sentenced by the end of this week. Hickey recently met with the prosecutor’s office, pleading with them to ask the judge to impose the maximum sentence. But John says even so, "whatever happens is not going to be satisfying, but it’s really at this point nobody’s fault that’s what the laws are, and the only thing we can do is to change the laws."

In Washington, if someone is convicted of first-degree animal cruelty, in a case where one could have tortured and or killed an animal, the maximum time they face is 12 months in jail. Prosecutors say most people serve less than that. Some people serve no time at all. As the law stands now, judges can choose a sentencing range of between 0 to 12 months. 

Hickey knows Williams could walk out court a free man. Even if he gets the maximum, with time served and good behavior, he’ll likely be out within months. So Hickey’s mission of justice for Alice has shifted. Now he wants to create Alice’s Law, enforcing stricter penalties for animal cruelty. "At this point I think that’s the most I can do for her…I don't think there’s any other way I can make sense of her death." 

John is hoping to get as much support as he can to change the animal cruelty law and hopes to get fellow animal lovers' support. Pasado’s Safe haven, a local nonprofit and animal rescue dedicated to ending animal cruelty has long fought to increase the penalties for the crime. 

"Often, people convicted of animal cruelty in the first degree are sentenced to community service, if anything at all. The laws against animal cruelty in Washington State are better than most states, thanks in large part to Pasado’s Safe Haven and Pasado’s Law, which made animal cruelty a felony offense. But we have a long way to go.  It can be said the punishment does not fit the crime, and it doesn’t. Not yet. But we are fighting every day to change that," says Kristin Gregory, Director of Animal Cruelty Investigations Pasado’s Safe Haven. 

There is a Facebook group called Justice For Alice where Hickey's sister posts regular updates on the case and their mission to create "Alice's Law." Pasado's Safe Haven says if you'd like to help reach out to legislators about changing the law, click here. 

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