By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – A Chickasaw County man has pled guilty to a reduced charge of animal cruelty, faces fines and restitution totaling more than $2,511 and will never be allowed to own animals again.
Bobby Huffman, 55, of 187 County Road 28, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty Jan. 31, after three horses and three dog were seized from his property and placed in the care of a local animal rescue agency. It was the second time Huffman had been charged with animal cruelty.
Justice Court Judge Garry Turner was poised to send the animal cruelty charge to a Chickasaw County grand jury where it would have been presented as a felony.
Huffman will pay restitution of $2,011.50 for the agencies who have housed his animal until they could be given new homes. Huffman was also fined $500. Judge Turner also placed Huffman on two years probation and ordered if he violates his probation he will be sentenced to 90-days in jail.
“We think this verdict is good for both parties,” said Lynda Koch, president of the Golden Triangle Horse Rescue. “We didn’t want to drag this out, but we do want this kind of thing to stop. I think this is very just.”
The case was initially heard in February, but a technicality prompted the case to be delayed until this week
Huffman was also charged with animal cruelty in 2011 after several starved dogs were found chained on his property. Judge Turner found Huffman guilty of one count of animal cruelty on Oct. 20, 2011. Turner fined Huffman $325 and ordered him to pay $456.20 in restitution to the Amory Humane Department for the care of dogs taken from his property.
“We are seeing more and more of these charges going to court and I am seeing from four to five of these kind of cases a year,” Turner said in February. “I think the public is being made more aware of this and reporting animal cruelty.”
In the most recent case Koch said the dogs and horses were taken to local veterinarians and were housed and fed by GTHR. Turner granted GTHR custody of the animals in February. Koch said Thursday the animals will now be placed with experienced horse owners.
Koch said anyone who becomes aware of possible animal abuse should contact city police or the sheriff.
“We realize the economy has made horses cheap and people sometimes don’t realize the expense of upkeep,” said Koch. “But if you can’t take care of an animal and neglect it, you can be charged with animal cruelty.”