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Man pleads guilty to cruelty after 131 animals seized

Man pleads guilty to cruelty after 131 animals seized

Harold E. Johnson Jr., of Dyke, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in Greene County General District Court. 

More than 100 animals were seized from his property on Friday, Nov. 6, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

In exchange for pleading guilty, Johnson received 90 days in jail with all suspended and two years required good behavior; he owes $750 in restitution for damage to property caused by his pigs and he’s banned from owning agricultural animals for five years, according to Morgane Zander, Greene County deputy commonwealth’s attorney.

Greene County deputy Kaitlyn Schmitt testified last week that she had visited Johnson’s property multiple times and tried to work with him on the care of the animals.

Various species of animals were seized in November including a variety of chickens, ducks, turkeys, guinea hens, rabbits, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs.

Deputy Schmitt told the judge that she had found dead animals in varying stages of decomposition in the cages with the live animals when she visited, as well as emaciated animals. While executing the search warrant Nov. 6, the state veterinarian determined that all the animals were in need of veterinary care and needed to be seized.

Johnson did not contest the seizure of the animals by the commonwealth of Virginia, which is a civil violation. He was ordered to pay $3,337.50 in restitution for the seizure in increments of $100 per month, beginning in January.

The Hon. Kenneth Andrew Sneathern accepted the plea deal.

“If that had gone before me, I might have gone a lot higher,” he said. “I find it extremely disturbing, I do. No animal should have to starve in a cage.”

As part of the deal, two other charges were dropped by the prosecution: trespass by animals and livestock running at large.

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Editor, Greene County Record

Terry Beigie is the Editor of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. She can be reached at tbeigie@greene-news.com or (434) 985-2315.

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