OGDEN — A man accused of dumping a bagful of puppies in a Riverdale trash bin has been sentenced to serve up to five years in prison.

Michael Ray Howard was sentenced on 14 counts of animal cruelty and one third-degree felony count of illegal possession of a controlled substance. During sentencing, Howard said nothing, but his attorney argued that he should only serve time in the Weber County Jail.

Instead, Judge Roger Dutson sentenced him to serve 13 years in prison for the class A misdemeanor counts of aggravated animal cruelty, six months in prison for a class B misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, and up to five years in prison for the drug charge. The sentences can run together, and the judge recommended he be enrolled in a drug treatment program at the prison.

Howard's defense attorney, Daniel Drage, gave no explanation for the puppy killings, but said his client has a significant drug history.

"Mr. Howard's core problem in his methamphetamine use, addiction," he said.

Rita Woodward, the woman who found the lone surviving puppy, cried as she urged the judge to give Howard the maximum sentence possible

"All I ask is something is done for the puppies," she said.

Prosecutors said the crime was committed with "extreme depravity" and noted it was a touchstone for the passage of Henry's Law, which increased the penalty for extreme cases of animal cruelty to a felony. That bill was passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Last year, Woodward was working at a Riverdale fabric store when she discovered a garbage bag in a trash bin that whimpered. Thinking it was a baby, she opened it, but instead found 14 puppies, only one of which survived. Woodward named that puppy "Precious" and said the dog is doing well.

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