June 13, 2013
PRESTONSBURG — Charges against a Prestonsburg woman who was charged more than two dozen animal cruelty charges plead guilty Monday after the charges were reduced to misdemeanors.
Vanessa Howard, of Prestonsburg, was arrested last November after animal control officials found 30 allegedly neglected animals in her possession. The original criminal complaint also stated that Howard had seven dead dogs inside a garbage bag on her front porch and two other dogs were found dead inside her home at 1815 Abbott Creek.
In Howard’s Prestonsburg residence on North Front Street, authorities found “nine cats living in feces and no health care and were blocked inside a small area for living quarters.”
Howard says told The Floyd County Times that the charges did not give an accurate picture.
“I didn’t do all that,” Howard said. “It just got blown out of proportion.”
Beth Shortridge, with the Floyd County Attorney’s Office, says Howard pleaded guilty to the charges of 30 counts of animal cruelty, but the charges were merged into one count. This was done, Shortridge said, because district court is limited in the amount of jail sentence they can impose. Howard had already served 29 days in jail, and over 70 days of home incarceration. She has been placed on probation for two years.
Howard now has 30 days to pay restitution to the Floyd County Animal Shelter and Dr. Rudolph Ousley in the amount of $4,360.90. Also part of the agreement, Howard is not to be in possession of any animals for the two years of her probation, and must continue seeking mental health counseling through Mountain Comprehensive Care Center.
She is also to be randomly drug tested at the court’s request.
Howard was also charged with a felony count of intimidating the animal control officer. Shortridge says that matter has been diverted for the period of her two year probation under the same stipulations.
The deal worked out with Howard was with the approval of animal control officer Paul Marsillett.