Crime EXCLUSIVE: Spike in number of animal cruelty cases concerns authorities | The Cullman Tribune

Crime

EXCLUSIVE: Spike in number of animal cruelty cases concerns authorities

Cullman County Animal Control Sgt. Chris Westmoreland said the department usually doesn't publish photos of animals involved in cruelty cases, but said Friday, "Maybe it's time for people to see this." The department has been inundated with cases over the last several weeks. Shown are two of the dogs seized in the Garrison/James case (top row); one of the dogs seized in the Floyd case (bottom left) and one of the dogs seized in the Looney case (bottom right). Cullman County Animal Control Director, Capt. Tim McKoy, encourages residents to contact Animal Control if they see animals in a condition similar to the ones shown in these photographs.  / Cullman County Animal Control

CULLMAN - There has been an alarming spike in the number of animal cruelty cases in Cullman County. According to Cullman County Animal Control Sgt. Chris Westmoreland, in a three-week span beginning Oct. 23, 12 people were arrested in five separate cases, and 28 animals were seized

“It was a very odd month,” said Westmoreland.  “We work a lot of animal cruelty cases, but we can usually get most of the owners in compliance.  But (the seized animals) were bad enough that we needed to take them at that point and get them to a vet.”

The following list includes one case from September, and those involved in the October/November spike of incidents.

  • Mark Kevin Bassett, 48 - cruelty to animal (horse), a Class A misdemeanor; case pending

This incident occurred on County Road 1635.

Westmoreland said that in this case, officers responded to a report in September of a horse in poor condition. “It takes a lot longer to put weight on a horse than on a canine, just because of their mass,” he said. “The owner was advised by a local vet how to care for the animal. He did not follow through. The condition of the horse deteriorated.”

 

  • Ashton Henil Floyd, 23 - cruelty to dog/cat (2 counts), Class A misdemeanors; case pending
  • Thomas Michael Floyd, 32 - cruelty to dog/cat (2 counts), Class A misdemeanors; case pending

This incident occurred on County Road 496.

The Floyds’ case involves two canines. “We had multiple contacts with them,” said Westmoreland, “from running at large, to not having water, to not having access to shelter. We made multiple attempts to get them into compliance. Some of the animals were brought into compliance; some were not. We seized two dogs.”

 

  • Tina Marie Garrison, 26 - cruelty to dog/cat (8 counts), Class A misdemeanors; sentenced to 15 days in jail
  • Jonathan Eugene James, 31 - cruelty to dog/cat (8 counts), Class A misdemeanors; sentenced to 30 days in jail

This incident occurred on County Road 1619.

“They had a couple of emaciated dogs on the property,” said Westmoreland. “Those two dogs, along with another one, were in very poor shape. I made contact with the owners, who said their dog food had gotten stolen, and they hadn’t bought anymore.”

Westmoreland said that at that point, the dogs needed to be seized and taken to the vet.

“We had an understanding that they needed to take the rest of the dogs to the vet by a certain date, and they didn’t do it. We seized six more dogs and took them to the vet. All of the animals test positive for parasites. The judge awarded custody of the eight dogs to the animal shelter.”

 

  • Kallie Jordan Suzanne Looney, 26 - cruelty to animals (6 counts), Class A misdemeanors; case pending

This incident occurred on County Road 52.

“We got the complaint around the first of August,” Westmoreland said, “that a dog was a little thin and suspected to be parasitic. We talked with the owner and she agreed to take the animal to the vet, which she did; she took care of it.”

Eight weeks later, officers got another call. “Within a matter of weeks, everything went downhill. She was not taking care of them like she should. We seized six canines.”

   

  • Terry Brian Massey, 41 - cruelty to animals, allowing dogs to run at large, Class A misdemeanors; case pending
  • Elizabeth Temple Melton, 35 - cruelty to animals, allowing dogs to run at large, Class A misdemeanors; case pending

This incident occurred on County Road 1511.

Westmoreland said this was a case of a dog unconfined to the property, which had tragic consequences.

“They had been warned multiple times of the animal being loose,” he said. “The animal ultimately died due to their criminal negligence.”

 

  • Brandon Steven Smith, 30 - aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), Class C felony; cruelty to dog (6 counts), Class A misdemeanor; case pending
  • Carolyn Sue Smith, 54 - aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), Class C felony; cruelty to dog (6 counts), Class A misdemeanor; case pending
  • Jeffery Allen Smith, 29 - aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), Class C felony; cruelty to dog (6 counts), Class A misdemeanor; case pending
  • Ronnie Steven Smith, 26 - aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), Class C felony; cruelty to dog (6 counts), Class A misdemeanor; case pending
  • Tony Steven Smith, 53 - aggravated cruelty to animals (2 counts), Class C felony; cruelty to dog (6 counts), Class A misdemeanor; case pending

Due to this being an active felony case, Westmoreland was limited in the amount of details he could share.

“All I can say is that the day after Thanksgiving, we were dispatched to County Road 233 on the report of a deceased animal. When we got on the scene, were found two deceased canines confined to property. There were six other canines that were in poor condition, some more than others. At that time, we made the determination to seize all the animals.”

Westmoreland said the six live dogs were taken to the vet for treatment, while the two deceased canines were taken to the Wallace State Community College diagnostic lab for necropsies.

The defendants in this case face possible jail time.

Said Westmoreland, “If you live in Cullman County, it doesn’t cost anything to bring an animal to the shelter. You need to do something other than let these animals sit out and suffer.”

Cullman County Animal Control Director, Capt. Tim McKoy, encourages residents to contact Animal Control if they see animals in a condition similar to the ones shown in these photographs*, so personnel can go and check on the animals.  Efforts will be made to bring owners into compliance where possible, but animals will be seized to protect the animals’ health or safety, if necessary.

To contact Cullman County Animal Control, call 256-734-5448 or visit http://cullmananimalcontrol.us/index.html.

*Photos from the Massey/Melton and Smith cases were not made public by Animal Control, as they were deemed too graphic.

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  • Cullman County Animal Control
    Horse seized in the Bassett case
  • Cullman County Animal Control
    One of the dogs seized in the Looney case
  • CCSO
    Mark Kevin Bassett
  • CCSO
    Ashton Henil Floyd
  • CCSO
    Thomas Michael Floyd
  • CCSO
    Tina Marie Garrison
  • CCSO
    Jonathan Eugene James
  • CCSO
    Kallie Jordan Suzanne Looney
  • CCSO
    Terry Brian Massey
  • CCSO
    Elizabeth Temple Melton
  • CCSO
    Brandon Steven Smith
  • CCSO
    Carolyn Sue Smith
  • CCSO
    Jeffery Allen Smith
  • CCSO
    Ronnie Steven Smith
  • CCSO
    Tony Steven Smith