Cruelty charges dropped

Published 10:59 pm Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prosecutors on Thursday agreed to stop pursuing 12 charges against a Suffolk woman who had been accused of cruelty against animals and failure to provide adequate care.

Elizabeth Ann Epps, 80, was charged June 3. Her attorney, Grier Ferguson, said after the court appearance Thursday that Epps was guilty of nothing more than having a bad day.

“She just got in a little over her head,” he said. “It was a little more than she could handle.”

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According to a city spokeswoman at the time of Epps’ arrest, Animal Control officers had visited Epps’ Kings Fork Road home in May and allegedly found many animals in crates in the residence. Some had no water and some crates had moldy items in them, the spokeswoman said.

Officers removed 13 cats from the residence. There also were 14 chickens, 10 geese and seven peacocks in the yard.

Ferguson said Thursday that Epps has a long history of caring for animals in Suffolk. Epps was one of the founders and a board member of the original Suffolk SPCA in the early 1990s. She became a member of Suffolk Humane Society in 1998, when the now-defunct SPCA organization dedicated land to Suffolk Humane.

Epps was in the hospital on the day Animal Control visited, she said in June. A woman who normally helped her was out of town. Epps said at the time that she checked herself out of the hospital when she realized nobody else was available to care for the animals, but it was too late.

Ferguson said Thursday that Epps had rectified the situations that led to the charges and scaled back the number of animals on the property. An Animal Control officer visited recently and found that all was well, he said.

Epps said Thursday that she is glad the charges are behind her.