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Duchess' Owners Found Guilty Of Animal Cruelty

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LILLINGTON — Justice may have been served for Duchess the dalmatian. Her owners were convicted Thursday of animal cruelty for an injury that cost the dog her leg.

Judge Andy Corbett made a strong statement in court about animal cruelty. The trial took about two hours while the decision came in only seconds.

"They knew these conditions were going on," Corbett said as he read the verdict. "They have tormented this dog. They have deprived her of substance for a protracted period of time."

Duchess' owners, Mervin and Cynthia Moats, will both serve 45-day suspended jail sentences. They will serve 50 hours of community service and pay court costs. The couple will be on supervised probation and cannot own a pet for five years.

Duchess was taken from the Moats by people who were concerned about her health. Her foot had rotted off and she had a severe infection. The dalmation is recovering from surgery and is doing well.

Dr. David Barkman testified in court that Duchess was 12 pounds underweight and depressed. Given the conditions she was in, Barkman said Duchess would have died in a matter of days.

Duchess' owners say they had never seen any signs of sickness. The Moats have already filed an appeal to their conviction.

Angie Tompkins, one of Duchess' rescuers, says she is pleased with the judge's decision.

"It's great that they don't need to own an animal for awhile. I'm very happy about that," she says.

Duchess has been turned over to Harnett County. The county attorney will make a decision on where she will go.

The Moats could have faced a more serious penalty. Inflicting serious pain or killing an animal is a Class-one misdemeanor.

Each charge could have carried a four-month jail term, depending on the defendant's record. Fines are strictly up to the judge.

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Lynda Loveland, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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