Matt's Memo: Turn the Other Cheek sentence in Apollo the Utica pit bull case

Apollo the pit bull.

Talk about a turn the other cheek type of sentencing in court. Monday Utica Judge John Balzano sentenced the owner of Apollo the pit bull to 75 hours of community service at the Stevens-Swan Humane Society in Utica. That's the very animal shelter where Michael Jenkins' dog is recovering from being left out in sub-zero weather a couple of weeks ago.

In the Gospel according to Matthew Jesus Christ said, " If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. " The sentencing from the judge is asking both Jenkins and the defenders of Apollo to do exactly that. Surprisingly, it now seems the judge did not consult with the Humane Society before telling Jenkins he had to tick off his community service hours cleaning cages and walking dogs.

Today the Stevens-Swan Humane Society posted this statement on its website, "Regarding Judge Balzano's assignment of Apollo's prior owner to perform community service work here at the Stevens-Swan Humane Society: We did not anticipate his placement here and have respectfully asked Judge Balzano to consider another location for his placement for community service."

We will watch to see if the judge reconsiders or whether he sees this case as a chance for all sides to learn from a case where an animal barely survived a night outside in subzero weather. Jenkins claimed in an interview with our reporter Brandon Roth that he and his grandchildren did care about Apollo. He fed him and gave him water. He did the best he could with limited resources. Yet he can't fully explain what happened when his dog ran away that night. He has lessons to learn.

The intense reaction from animal advocates including those at Stevens-Swan might also learn a lesson in forgiveness by having Jenkins lending a hand for a few weeks. It's an extraordinary human challenge to overcome feelings of negativity toward a fellow human being. Jenkins might learn about the importance of properly caring for animals. The shelter workers might learn something about themselves.

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