NEWARK - The 29-year-old defendant in the "Patrick the Dog" case has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges.

Kisha Curtis entered the plea Tuesday, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. The plea comes on the day before Curtis was set to head to trial.

Curtis was accused of tying her pit bull Patrick to a railing in her Newark apartment before leaving the state in 2011. The emaciated dog was later found at the bottom of a trash chute.

Curtis had previously denied the charges, but today admitted she abandoned Patrick without food or water.

The guilty plea was not part of a deal and the assistant prosecutors handling the case say they will seek the maximum penalty of 18 months.

"Miss Curtis obviously committed an act, and now she's paying the consequences for it," says Assistant Essex County Prosecutor David Feldman.

The case sparked a call for tougher laws against mistreatment of pets.

Patrick has since made a full recovery. He being cared for by Patricia Smillie Scavelli, an administrator at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, where he was slowly nursed back to health.

Curtis is currently free on bail, and is set to be sentenced on Aug. 29.