Animal cruelty suspect charged

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, March 2, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
An Atmore man was charged with second-degree cruelty to a dog in district court at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton on Monday.
John Brown of 1148 Conway Road in Atmore was sentenced to a two years suspended sentence by judge Dave Jordan. Brown was also ordered to surrender any animals that he currently owns and was prohibited from ever owning animals again.
"It angers me, but honestly it saddens me that human beings have that capacity," Humane Society of Escambia County director and cruelty investigator Renee Jones said Tuesday. "It frustrates me because there are so many other opportunities for people today. We do not charge people to bring their unwanted animals to us. The No. 1 killer of animals in country today is euthanasia."
Jones said the Humane Society accepted 2,453 animals last year. Only 406 of them were adopted. Some others were returned to their owners, but the rest were euthanized.
"There is not excuse for it now because we're here and the resources are here."
The Humane Society was granted the right to inspect Brown's property to insure his compliance with that order and directly following the trial proceeded to his property and picked up a dog living on a chain in Brown's junkyard.
Jones said cruelty to a dog or cat in the second-degree is a Class A misdemeanor, which includes neglect and depriving of food, water and or shelter. A Class A misdemeanor can hold a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. First-degree cruelty to a dog or cat is a Class C felony and holds a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. All penalties are part of the Pet Protection Act passed in 2000.
On July 22, 2005, Humane Enforcement Officer Janet Beall responded to a complaint that John Brown was starving two puppies. Upon arriving at his residence and locating the two 6-8 month old labs in a makeshift pen standing ankle deep in mud and feces, Beall seized the severely emaciated dogs and took shocking photos of the conditions that they were living in.
"The way that these animals were being forced to live were beyond belief," Beall said. "It's appalling to know that any human being can look out their window every day and know that they are causing extreme pain and suffering to an animal and, yet, they do nothing to alleviate it."
According to a release issued by the Humane Society of Escambia County on Monday, the only water in the pen was a green algae gel and the puppies' food pan was filled with muddy water and maggots. The animals were covered with pressure sores from lying down in the muck with bone against skin against wet ground. The two dogs, a yellow female, and a black male, were taken immediately to Dr. William Thompson for exam and treatment. The yellow female was so severely hookworm anemic that she had to have blood transfusions to survive. She weighed 16 pounds and she should have weighed 50-65 pounds. The black male weighed 21 pounds and he should have weighed 55-70 pounds.
"A warrant wasn't issued right away for his (Brown's)) arrest right away because we prefer to have a civil agreement to where he would allow us to monitor the dog that he had that seemed to be in fair condition as far as treatment for it," Jones said. "Sometimes in rural counties we do have people who have been raised differently when it comes to animals. We prefer to help people understand and know what it means to be a responsible pet owner rather than immediately take criminal measures, but in this case, we weren't able to do that."
Both dogs were treated and returned to the animal shelter where they were fed a normal diet and dewormed on a regular basis. They both flourished rapidly and were adopted into wonderful, loving, pet responsible homes. We hope to be able to do the same for the dog that was seized Monday.
Jones said the Humane Society accepts animal complaints from the community.
"We respond to anything that someone calls and believes we should check out," she said. "Sometimes it's not a cruelty case, but sometimes it is."

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