Brenda Luellen, also known as Brenda Kenney, waived her right to a jury and an attorney and represented herself during Friday’s trial.
Assistant Tom Green County attorneys Jill Simpson and Gerald Fohn prosecuted the case, which alleged Luellen cruelly treated 69 dogs and puppies that were taken from her home April 4, 2008.
“I don’t know how to stop you, but dogs you take into your care and custody do not deserve this,” County Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge Penny Roberts said shortly before handing down her sentence.
Cruelty to animals is a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to one year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. The pending health violation charges carry up to $2,000 in fines.
City officials estimated it cost $8,625 to care for the animals.
Costs included transport, veterinarian bills, vaccinations, external parasite treatment, feeding and shelter.
The nonprofit organization that rehabilitated the dogs estimated its total cost at $10,000, which was spent on getting the animals from the shelter, surgeries, medications and rehabilitation.
Prosecution witness Leslie Turney, city animal services manager, testified to the cruel treatment of the 69 dogs and puppies taken from the home in the 6000 block of Kingsbridge Drive.
Simpson’s second witness was Jenie Wilson, a volunteer with Shih Tzus & Furbabies Rescue, a Georgia-based organization that rehabilitates dogs and places them for adoption.
The third witness, Arthur Kenney, was called by Luellen.
Wilson said many of the animals had eye infections and fur matted with urine and feces. In some cases, the dog’s fur was so matted it was “like a solid coat” that had to be shaved off. One male dog was so matted, he could not move his back legs.
“I’ve never seen dogs in the condition these were in,” Wilson said.
Prosecutors showed the court photos and a video of the animals shortly after they were taken.
“We think certainly the facts of this case justified the punishment, the maximum punishment, the judge gave,” Fohn said.
During the recess Luellen said she knew her house was dirty the day city officials took her dogs, but since she had forgotten to pay the utility bill, there was no hot water.
“I have taken dogs, some near death, and brought them back,” Luellen said. “That’s how much I love dogs. To take my rights away, that’s cruel.”
Luellen has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.
Her husband’s trial for the same charge of animal cruelty is scheduled for next month.
(Standard Times - June 19, 2009)