Northern Kentucky woman fights domestic violence against pets and people- Awarded Amy Jones Advocacy Award at annual Day of Peace Event!
years after a former co-worker broke into Bridgett Wright's Lakeside
Park home and stabbed two of her cats to death, the 33-year-old has
become an advocate for stronger laws to protect people and pets from
her efforts, Wright will receive the Amy Jones Advocacy Award at the
17th annual Day of Peace event Friday in Covington. The award is named
for the Ohio woman who survived three attempts on her life by her
husband and used her ordeal to help others.
year's Day of Peace event highlights stalking and pet abuse - often
hidden forms of dating/domestic violence, said Tasha Wilder, a community
educator with the Women's Crisis Center and chairperson of the Day of
Peace committee. The Illusion Modeling Group at Holmes High School also
will be recognized for donating proceeds of calendar sales to end
has taken a tragedy in her life, and she's tried to turn it into a
positive," said Dan Evans, executive director of the Kenton County
Animal Shelter. "Hers was the first case prosecuted under Romeo's Law in
Kentucky that made it a felony to kill a domesticated animal."
Swigart, the Highland Heights man who killed Wright's cats, was
sentenced to 10 years for burglary and two years for torturing the cats.
February, Wright made sure that Swigart, who terrorized at least three
other women and their pets, was denied parole. She presented the
Kentucky Parole Board with thousands of petition signatures collected on
the social networking site Change.org to keep him locked up.
started her petition on Change.org hoping to get 1,000 signatures to
support her cause before the Kentucky Parole Board," said Stephanie
Feldstein of Change.org. "But her story inspired more than 15,700 people
to join her campaign. Bridgett was not only empowered to advocate for
herself, but she's become an incredible advocate for other women and
was out of town on business when Swigart broke into her townhome the
night of Sept. 25, 2008, armed with an 11-inch hunting knife.
Swigart stabbed to death two of Wright's cats named Piggy and Mr. Frank. A third cat, Alley, hid and wasn't hurt.
and Wright had met at a medical supply company, where he had hired her
as a sales representative, according to court records. The two had dated
a couple of times, but Swigart no longer worked for the company, and
Wright had stopped seeing him more than a year before he broke into her
night of the break-in, a frantic Wright, who was in Ashland, called
authorities after she received a series of alarming, unsolicited text
messages from Swigart.
Wright is likely alive today only because she took a last-minute,
out-of-town business trip," Justin Sanders, the prosecutor in Wright's
case, wrote in a letter to the Kentucky Parole Board.
Wright has told her story to various groups, to ensure that the deaths
of her pets were not in vain and to prevent other women from going
through what she did.
need to watch out for somebody who's controlling, someone who shows
extreme jealousy, mood swings or sudden bursts of anger for no reason,"
she said. "An abuser also tends to have poor relationships with family
and often has compulsive behaviors when it comes to alcohol, drugs or
many victims, Wright initially blamed herself for the violence that her
former boss had inflicted on pets she considered part of her family.
felt guilty for ever having been associated with him, for not seeing
the signs and realizing that he could be violent," she said.
she researched Swigart's background, however, Wright realized that he
had victimized other women and could just as easily have fixated on
- who was forced to give up her home and leave a job in which she
excelled - suffered from post traumatic stress disorder after the
break-in. She battled anxiety and depression, and she's spent years in
Swigart's sentencing, Wright said she realized she could "roll over and
be a victim, or (she) could stand up for herself and make sure that
(her perpetrator) served the sentence that he was dealt."
worked alongside prosecutors during the 15 months leading up to
Swigart's guilty plea, even though it made her physically ill every time
she had to face him in court. When Swigart came up for parole, she
successfully lobbied to keep him behind bars another two years, and she
plans to fight his parole again in February 2013.
days, Wright has a website devoted to her late pets,
www.mrfrankandpiggy.com. She has 650 animal rights friends on her
Facebook page, and she continues to fight for animal rights through
Kentucky, she's lobbied for a law that would consider the manner in
which a weapon is used in determining the penalty for using it in a
fact that (Swigart) broke into my house with an 11-inch buck knife was
considered second-degree breaking and entering instead of first-degree,"
Wright said. "A deadly weapon in Kentucky, as a relates to a knife, is a
foot long. Anything under a foot, you can break into someone's house
and shave 10 years off your sentence."
who says she was unaware of her former co-worker's violent history
until after she was victimized, has a civil suit pending against Swigart
and her former employer.
think Bridgett has shown a lot of strength throughout the whole
process," Sanders said. "She was very involved in the prosecution of her
case, and she's done a remarkable job of confronting the man who
"She's been very brave, very strong, and she deserves all the accolades that come her way."
By Cindy Schroeder
The Kentucky Enquirer