A Christmas Angel

In my view, the miserable existence of Travis Archer should forever be defined by the brutal beating death of a 9-month-old Labrador retriever named Ponce – an innocent dog, who, according to records, suffered “…extensive trauma to three sides of his head, six fractured teeth, a fractured lower jaw, two broken ribs and other injuries. . .”

I will always look upon Mr. Archer, and those like him, with disgust – something best held at a distance – a golem formed of excrement, a monster beyond redemption.   

And I hope this grisly stigma follows anyone who would maliciously torture, abuse, and kill animals – so that those who commit these atrocious crimes never become accepted members of a civil and just society. 

After serving in law enforcement most of my life, I have developed a burning hatred for those who cause harm to the vulnerable – children, the mentally challenged, elderly persons, defenseless animals – sentient beings who cannot protect themselves from victimization and exploitation. 

‘Hate’ is a strong word, but I accept these feelings as a natural psychological reaction after more than three-decades observing man’s brutal inhumanity to the helpless – years when I was forced to approach these horrific cases with a cold, unemotional professionalism – physically suppressing the normal feeling of human outrage.

I have come to realize that, over time, attempting to overpower and compartmentalize one’s instinctive emotions takes a toll.  I suppose that is why this blog has proven so cathartic.          

As an “advanced” culture, we rely on the rule of law as a means of seeking what passes for justice, and, in the case of Travis Archer, the law in place at the time of the crime worked – sort of.

From the start, Mr. Archer received incredibly competent and aggressive representation from his lawyer, Aaron Delgado – one of the best in that difficult business – who fulfilled his role, and lawful duty to the system, by using every legal means available to present a vigorous defense and ensure his client’s rights were protected.   

According to reports, following Archer’s no contest plea to felony animal cruelty, Circuit Court Judge Sandra Upchurch levied appropriate sanctions, fines, and fees, then reasonably ordered that he never again be permitted to own an animal. 

Sounds fair, right? 

After all, the courts typically rule that those who use technology and the internet to steal from or exploit others cannot have access to computers – nor should they.

It’s a viable means of limiting access to future victims.

Unfortunately, in a split decision, the Fifth District Court of Appeals recently ruled that Judge Upchurch exceeded the scope of her jurisdiction, ruling that Archer could not be barred from owning animals for the rest of his life – only for the duration of his three-year probation.

Fortunately, that should never happen again. 

Thanks to the intrepid animal rights activist Debbie Darino – whose legendary fight for what would become known as Ponce’s Law – added enhanced penalties for those who would abuse defenseless animals, including a new provision of the law that permits judges to order a lifetime ban on animal ownership for those convicted of these heinous crimes.   

Obviously, those protections were not in place at the time of Ponce’s death. 

Now, Ms. Darino is continuing her compassionate crusade to ensure adequate protections for vulnerable animals by fighting hard for anti-tethering and adequate shelter ordinances in all cities in Volusia County – and she is working hard with State Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff of DeLand to introduce legislation in the 2021 session which will clarify the animal cruelty statute and ensure that offenders are properly charged with a felony crime.

I hope you will join me in supporting Ms. Darino’s inspiring efforts to seek protections – and justice – for defenseless animals who cannot speak for themselves. 

Thank you for your outstanding work – and for your humanity, Ms. Darino.

You are one of Volusia County’s true Christmas Angels!    

5 thoughts on “A Christmas Angel

  1. I love dogs as much as human beings.I will make a statement that some of you wont like.Archer should be put away for 3 years.I read stories all the time from all over the country of people getting killed by someone arrested 25 times and is only 28 years old and just got out of jail.Maybe we should have put a 10 year old in jail for stealing 6 cars and now caught in a gang at 13 in school and brings a gun to school.The judicial system is broken.The media tells you what they want and not what they dont want you to know like the NY TIMES never mentioning Eric Swawell and his FANG FANG..This country is going to hell .Big government wants to take all your freedoms away .Am I right Nancy or Chuckie?.MERRY CHRISTMAS


    1. Very well written and on point. I especially loved the description towards the monster who brutally murdered Ponce.
      Funny how the Fifth District Court of Appeals fight even harder for the actual criminals, God forbid justice be served.
      Thankfully we have Debbie fighting even harder for the voiceless, defenseless and helpless! Shame on those for injustice.


  2. Dogs are better than humans – they should be treated like royalty, in my humble opinion. The person who harms an animal or child deserves the worst possible penalty. Hate is a strong word; however, I concur in this instance! Merry Christmas Mr. Barker and thank you for your pearls of wisdom!


    1. Tonight Fox 35 reorted SPCA in Brevard has a dog shot multiple times in the face with a mutiple bb gun attack and .ay lose its eye.PEOPLE are the animals.A woman got caught in Palm Coast and shot the dog and owner twice with bbs and all she got was simple assault.Courts in NYC give out no bail for lots worse


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