Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TOP STORY >> Puppy-mill owner guilty

Leader staff writer

An Austin-area woman arrested last summer on multiple charges of cruelty to animals has been found guilty of some of those charges and will go before Circuit Judge Sandy Huckabee Friday for sentencing.

Jurors heard testimony for three days before deliberating four hours on March 15 and finding Sandra Nance, 57, guilty of five counts of cruelty to animals and her husband Marcus, 62, not guilty.

Both were acquitted of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony charge that implies animal torture.

The jury was not able to reach agreement on a sentencing recommendation after two hours of deliberation so Huckabee will decide that on Friday.

The judge also will decide what will become of the 137 dogs that were seized on June 28, 2012, by the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of Pulaski County where they are still held.

Until the judge says otherwise, they still belong to the Nances, said Lonoke County deputy prosecutor Ben Hooper, who handled the case with deputy prosecutor Paula Jones.

Jones also works part time for North Little Rock prosecuting animal cases.

The Nances were represented by Jerry Sallings and Seth Jewell, both of Little Rock.

Essentially, Sandra Nance was convicted for keeping her dogs in poor conditions and not providing them with veterinary care, but not of running a puppy mill but.

She raised her puppies in kennels about 100 feet from her home and sold them at a store in Searcy.

She raised several breeds including Airedale terriers, schnauzers, Chihuahuas as well as English bulldogs which she said could sell for as much as $3,500 each.

The prosecution brought in veterinarians who testified to the poor conditions in which the dogs were kept and to their deteriorated health from lack of proper medical care.

Sandra Nance’s defense was that she was able to provide proper care herself.

Cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor. Nance could be fined from $150 to $1,000 for each conviction and be sentenced to one day to one year of community service or one day to one year in jail.

A spokesman for the Humane Society said the dogs will be adopted if the judge gives his approval.