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Ex-Irvine kennel worker who starved her German shepherd sentenced

August 15, 2011 |  2:50 pm

hoto: Kimberly Kimiko Nizato. Courtesy of: KTLA-TV

This post has been corrected; please see bottom for details.

A former kennel attendant accused of nearly starving her German shepherd to death was sentenced Monday on a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty instead of the felony charge she originally faced.

Kimberly Nizato, 27, of Bellflower was sentenced to 30 days in county jail and three years' probation and was ordered by Judge Robert Higa in Norwalk Superior Court to pay the Orange County German Shepherd Rescue organization $2,034 in restitution.

Nizato pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty June 28. But Nizato’s attorney, Andrew Stein, asked Higa that the charge be reduced.

“I make no excuse for what my client did,” Stein told the judge. “But I believe this was a crime of omission, not commission.”

Nizato was a kennel attendant at an Irvine veterinary clinic when authorities removed the severely emaciated dog from her home in April 2010.

The animal weighed just 37 pounds, and a veterinarian who examined the dog later found only hair, dirt and rocks in its stomach.

The dog, renamed Courage, has since been adopted. His new owner, a Huntington Beach resident, submitted an impact statement to the court that was read aloud by prosecutors, reported the Orange County Register.

“Courage has moved on. He is a healthy, joyous, 92-pound dog that spends his days playing with toys, his shepherd gal pal and his wading pool. He harbors no ill effects and is now in perfect health. His temperament is loving and forgiving,” Lisa Whiseant’s statement read. “He is loved, adored, protected and, thankfully, will have a happy life after returning from the brink of death.”

Nizato is due back in court Nov. 8 for a progress hearing. She did not surrender Monday to serve her time, and it was not clear when she would begin her sentence.

[Corrected Aug. 16 at 1:17 p.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly gave the restitution amount as $42,034 and the court date as Nov. 9.]

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Kimberly Kimiko Nizato. Courtesy of: KTLA-TV

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