Local News

Breeder found guilty of animal cruelty

Posted August 13, 2009

— A District Court judge on Thursday found a Wayne County woman guilty of a dozen misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.

County animal control officers seized 283 dogs from Thornton's Kennel in February. Many of the animals were emaciated, had untreated cuts and were housed in filthy conditions, authorities said.

Kennel owner Virginia Thornton, of Mount Olive, received two 45-month suspended jail sentences and must serve 36 months on probation, pay a $2,000 fine and perform 48 hours of community service. Under the terms of her probation, she is banned from breeding animals or owning any except for the two dogs she currently has.

Testifying on behalf of the state, Dr. Kelli Ferris, an expert witness from North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, said Thursday that she observed chain collars on the dogs at the time of their rescue that had been on the animals for a prolonged period.

"It shows a complete lack of understanding by this breeder," she said, adding that she believes the animals had been deprived of necessary medical care.

Thornton had no comment over the course of the two-day trial.


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  • colliedave Aug 14, 2009

    My oldest collie, Puck, was a seizure from a "backyard" breeder. Had been burned with cigarettes, hit with leashes, etc. He still has his moments, but for the most part, he enjoys bothering his younger brother. Dakota.

  • bungalowal Aug 14, 2009

    I used to live next to someone who neglected their beautiful, sweet husky. I called animal protection... they didn't care. They kept her in a tiny pen that they NEVER cleaned and she laid around in her own filth. She had escaped her huge fenced yard several times out of loneliness (they ignored her completely), so they caged her up in the tiny pen instead. It's unfathomable that we have "animal protection" that doesn't do anything really, it seems. Our laws in NC need serious work.. and punishments need to be more harsh and not let to slide! We are still a backwoods hick state. It's sad and lame.

  • valentine girl Aug 14, 2009

    The punishment was 2 45-day jail sentences. She should have served at least one of them to see what it is like to live in confinement. Unlike what she did to her dogs, she would have been fed properly, and not chained! This was a decision on the part of the judge. We should be complaining about his ability to send a message about the way animal cruelty is treated.

  • luvmyjackrascal Aug 14, 2009

    That's the whole problem - animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor. At least she got more than a slap on the wrist. But why allow her to keep any of the dogs? She's convicted of animal cruelty but allowed to have animals? That makes no sense.

  • Ladybug008 Aug 14, 2009

    Her punishment is a JOKE!!! She shouldn't be allowed to 'keep' anything that breaths. How much did this fiasco cost us as taxpayers? Community Service - Ha! Cruelty to animals is right up there w/cruelty to children & the elderly. There's a special place for people like her!!!!

  • rescuefan Aug 13, 2009

    That shows how lax our current cruelty laws are. Any time we push for more stringent laws, we get these people who say "we have laws in place, they just need to be enforced". The laws were enforced with this woman, but she got no real punishment at all for the torture she put those dogs and puppies through. She shouldn't even be able to keep the two they are letting her keep, in my opinion.

  • Qwerty27807 Aug 13, 2009

    Can't they at least bill her for the euthenasia costs? 283 animals?

  • All child molesters should die Aug 13, 2009

    Jetset, you sould like a very caring person. You should open a profile on GOLO.



  • carolinagirl75 Aug 13, 2009

    I just can't understand how people can abuse or neglect innocent animals.

  • jetset Aug 13, 2009

    It is very sad to hear about abusive treatment in this world....animals, children, elderly, etc,etc. It makes me sick. I just wish I could have ALL the dogs, children, elderly and take care of them the way they should be taken care of. They would have lots of love, attention, food, clothing, shelter,etc. My heart hurts for this cruel world.