Local News

Breeder found guilty of animal cruelty

Posted August 13, 2009 6:41 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2009 7:09 p.m. EDT

— 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.