Women charged with animal cruelty

Published 11:05 pm Friday, September 14, 2012

A woman found guilty of starving her horses in 2009 is in trouble with the law again, having been arrested Wednesday for animal cruelty after Animal Control officers responded to a complaint at her house.

Jennifer Eileen Harrell, 36, and Mattie Linda Vann, 64, both are charged with cruelty to animals. They are neighbors on Deer Path Road, according to city spokeswoman Diana Klink.

Animal Control officers went to the women’s homes on Sept. 4 after receiving a complaint of dogs running at large, Klink said. They allegedly found a total of 15 small-breed dogs, most of which were running in and out of neighbors’ yards, Klink said.

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Ten of the dogs belonged to Vann, Klink said, and the other five belonged to Harrell.

Klink said there was inadequate food, water and facilities such as dog houses for that number of animals.

Vann and Harrell each are charged with 14 counts, including cruelty to animals, dogs without city licenses or rabies certificates, running at large and providing inadequate space, exercise or care.

Harrell’s former court case began in the fall of 2009, when residents on Wilroy Road noticed five horses in the woods. Some were tied to trees with dog leashes, and the others were roaming free. All were severely undernourished and suffering from skin infections.

One horse had to be euthanized the following day, but the other four recovered. Harrell’s defense attorney said she had moved the horses to property she had leased there and had them tied up until she could build a fence.

Before Harrell even went to trial on those charges, officers were called to her home and discovered two horses standing in the mud, along with dogs without adequate shelter.

After being convicted of 10 counts of animal cruelty relating to both 2009 incidents, Harrell was ordered by the court to keep only one domesticated animal and one livestock animal. She also had suspended jail time and was ordered to remain on good behavior for five years.

Prosecutor Susan Walton said Friday the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office likely will wait to see what happens with the new charges before taking any actions on the possible violations of the court orders.

Vann also has a history of similar charges, including being found guilty of cruelty to animals and providing inadequate space, exercise or care in 2011.