Woman gets probation in felony animal cruelty case

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A Texarkana woman responsible for starving at least three dogs to death was sentenced to a five-year term of probation Thursday in Miller County.

Magan Terry, 29, is prohibited from owning any animals while on probation. She appeared before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones late Thursday morning with Public Defender Matt Stephens and entered pleas of guilty to three felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Stephens asked that Terry be sentenced under Arkansas first offender law, which allows defendants who successfully complete a term of probation to have their felony conviction expunged. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell objected to the proposal.

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“This was a deliberate act. She starved or allowed to dehydrate three dogs in her care and a fourth passed while in the care of Animal Care and Adoption,” Mitchell argued. “An Airedale was found in a plastic tub taped shut.”

Mitchell said Terry claimed that the dog found dead in a Rubbermaid tub had been placed there after its death.

“First she said it died from biting an electrical cord and then later admitted to deliberately withholding food and water,” Mitchell said.

Stephens argued that first offenders are eligible for another chance. Mitchell reminded the court that Terry was pleading guilty to three felonies.

Terry told the court that she believed someone else was caring for her dogs while she was away caring for her mother, who lives in neighboring Bowie County, after her mother suffered a stroke. Mitchell said the condition of the dogs upon discovery by animal control led her to doubt Terry’s claim.

“The two dogs found in a bedroom had decomposed to the point they couldn’t identify their genders or their breeds,” Mitchell said. “All that was a pile of fur.”

After the lunch recess, Jones called Terry’s case a second time and declined to sentence her under Arkansas’ first offender law. Jones told Terry that if she completes probation she can still petition the court to clear her record.

Animal control officers were called July 9 to Terry’s home on Dudley Street in Texarkana, Ark., concerning a white Pit Bull in poor condition. Officers seized the dog, which was malnourished and infested with fleas.

“The dog appeared to be completely covered with fleas to the point that its back appeared to be black and the fleas appeared to move in waves across its body,” a search warrant affidavit states.

The smell of decomposition and animal waste was so overpowering that officers had to put on haz-mat suits before entering Terry’s house. Animal waste covered the floors and the carcasses of two dogs were discovered in a closed room.

Jones ordered Terry to serve five years of probation, pay a $1,500 fine and court costs. Charges remain pending against Terry’s co-defendant, 38-year-old Brandon Woody. Woody is scheduled to appear in court again before Jones in October.

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