AURORA -- A 20-year-old Denver man will spend a year in jail for cutting the
throat of his 7-month-old puppy last week.
Samuel Lee Shipman pleaded guilty Monday in Aurora Municipal Court to one
count each of cruelty to animals and endangering the life and health of an
The charges stemmed from a Sept. 6 incident in which Shipman twice slashed
the throat of his female black Labrador, Shadow, after an argument with his
Municipal Judge Greg Hopkins sentenced Shipman to 730 days in jail, of which
360 days were suspended, as recommended by the city attorney's office.
Shipman began serving the sentence immediately.
Hopkins suspended nearly half the sentence on the condition that Shipman pay
an estimated $6,000 in restitution to Alameda East Veterinary Hospital,
where efforts to save Shadow were unsuccessful.
Shipman also was forbidden to have any animals while on probation and must
undergo a mental health assessment and get anger counseling treatment as
part of the plea bargain.
George Zierk, Aurora deputy city attorney, said the sentence was in the
upper range of punishment the city normally seeks for misdemeanor charges.
"It is rare that we ask for consecutive sentences that total more than a
year," Zierk said. "But we felt it was warranted when you look at the
circumstances of the case and his lack of concern for the animal or its
Two state legislators, Rep. Alice Borodkin, D-Denver, and Sen. Deanna Hanna,
D-Lakewood, said they plan to introduce a bill next year to make animal
cruelty a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
Police said the incident was apparently triggered after an argument between
Shipman and his girlfriend, who complained to him that the dog had been
chewing the furniture in their Denver apartment. The girlfriend brought the
dog to the Summer Chase apartment complex in Aurora, where Shipman was
staying with a friend.
Zierk said Shipman took the dog to a dumpster area in the complex and
slashed its throat.
"He left and when he went back later saw the dog was still alive and cut its
throat again," Zierk said. "That is one of the primary reasons we went for
consecutive sentences. He had an opportunity to think about it and then did
it a second time."
Zierk said Shipman neither gave any reasons for his actions nor expressed
remorse during Monday's court hearing.
"This didn't have to happen," Zierk said. "There were a lot of options. The
dog could have been put up for adoption."
Josh Bair, who was letting Shipman stay at his apartment, said he was
surprised and disappointed in the "friend" he met while both attended
Cambridge College in Aurora.
"I thought Sam was a better person than that, but I guess he isn't," Bair
said. "I don't know what he was thinking. I just hope he takes advantage of
all this to get some help."
Tina Nealy, who lives in the apartment complex, said the incident deeply
upset her and her neighbors.
"I have two little Westies and a lot of us around here have pets and love
animals," Nealy said. "It was such a terrible thing."