He was nursed back to health at a veterinary hospital and is now happy and healthy, his new owners wrote in a letter read to the court Thursday.
Curtis didn't admit throwing the dog down the trash chute.
Judge Joseph Cassini III said Curtis was "tried in the court of public opinion" and "portrayed as a monster" in the weeks and months after her arrest. The prosecutor's office, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the facility that treated the dog known as Patrick because he was discovered around St. Patrick's Day received thousands of letters, faxes and emails from people around the world offering support or advice. Some even urged Cassini to give Curtis the death penalty.
Speaking to a courtroom filled with green-shirted supporters of Patrick, Cassini said he is a dog lover and owns two German shepherds but contrasted Curtis' case with one scheduled in his courtroom later Thursday in which a man stands accused of killing a Newark police officer.
"On a scale of 10, with 10 being the most serious, Ms. Curtis' case, from where I sit, is around a three or a four," he said. "In this case, fortunately, no one was killed; Patrick survived and is thriving. We have to put things in perspective."
That reasoning didn't sit well with members of a group called Prayers for Patrick who attended the sentencing.
"I just wanted her to serve some time," said Allison Ognibene of Sparta. "She left this dog to die. After 2½ years of dragging this out, I don't think justice was served."
Curtis, whose hair was dyed bright pink, didn't make a statement before she was sentenced and didn't comment outside the courtroom afterward. Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Margarita Rivera said Curtis, a mother of four, was entitled to a probationary term by law because of the level of the offense and the fact she had didn't have a criminal record. She said Curtis also has followed court-ordered mental health and substance-abuse counseling since her arrest and appears to be turning her life around.
"She has done well the last two years; she has been a model citizen," Rivera said. "[The judge] followed the law and followed it justly."
This month, Gov. Chris Christie signed "Patrick's Law," which increases fines and maximum prison sentences for some animal cruelty offenses.