Couple pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 16, 2015

City Court Judge Gerald Cruthird announced that City Prosecutor Gerald Patch negotiated a plea arrangement with defense attorney Michael D. Wilson, counsel for Lynne Hackney and Miles Allen.

In October of last year Picayune Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri went to the 2202 East Canal St., Hackney and Allen’s address, and found more than 50 dogs living in and around the home, the Picayune Item reported. This was in violation of a city ordinance that states residents can have no more than six animals on their property. All of the animals were sitting in their own feces and urine and ammonia from the urine burned the dogs paws, according to previous reports.

“The court is going to approve the settlement,” Cruthird said. “Mr. Allen and Ms. Hackney are each going to plead guilty to one count of animal cruelty, one count of keeping more than six pets, one count on lack of rabies inoculation and one count of violation of sanitation standards for keeping animals.”

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The total fines for the misdemeanor offenses are $7,133. They will each have to pay $3,566. Hackney was not present for court due to illness so Cruthird said he would not sign off on the judgments until she confirms along with Allen that they will make satisfactory arrangements to pay the fines.

Once Cruthird announced approval of the settlement, which he said was due to Allen and Hackney being forced out of business, audible gasps and tears came from members of the Pearl River County Society of Prevention to the Cruelty of Animals.

Cruthird also said that they have limited incarceration facilities in Picayune that are reserved for people convicted of more serious crimes.

“We don’t really have the facilities here to put people over here for 30 and 45 and 60 days,” Cruthird said. “You ladies have my assurance that if they’re charged again on any of these animal related charges, and they come in here and are found guilty, they will be a guest of the city of Picayune for an extended period of time.”

Responding to allegations from the SPCA that Allen and Hackney are still breeding dogs, Wilson said, “No. They have been put out of business. The day that those dogs were seized, they lost their license.”

Wilson also said he raised some ethics issues throughout the matter.

“One of the local cops who was part of this whole initial investigation ended up getting one of those dogs. So that was a question. Cops just don’t keep what they seize,” he said.

Judy Wheaton, Director of PRCSPCA, said “We would have liked more severe punishment, but the judge was pretty clear that if they ever did something like this again and caught guilty, the book would be thrown at them.”