GEORGIA -- A Waynesboro man has been arrested for starving his hunting dogs to death.
Stephen Matthew Crooms, 27, was jailed last Wednesday and is charged with 10 counts of cruelty to animals.
According to Investigator Gene Boseman of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office, the first grim discovery was made last month after Crooms’ family sold a portion of their Highway 56 South farm.
While the property and outbuildings were being inspected, the chained bodies of five dead dogs were found inside a barn.
“It was the worst thing I had ever laid my eyes on,” the Waynesboro man who alerted deputies told The True Citizen. “The poor things had tried to escape by digging out but had been unsuccessful.”
When investigators arrived, they were similarly dismayed.
“The dogs had been starved to death,” Boseman said, explaining the barn is across the highway from Crooms’trailer. “There is no doubt about it.”
Deputies said Crooms denied the dogs belonged to him; but collars with his name and telephone number were on all of the carcasses.
While officers were investigating that case, more allegations surfaced.
According to Boseman, deputies received complaints about more neglected hunting dogs that were penned just outside Crooms’ trailer.
“When officers arrived, one dog was dead … the other four in the pen did not have food or water,” Boseman said, noting that temperatures had been dipping into the teens. “They were in the cold with no shelter.”
All 10 of Crooms’ charges are misdemeanors, and he was released from jail on a $3,750 bond. Officers said family members have taken over the care of the four surviving dogs.
Crooms’ case is expected to be heard in February, and the man who found the dead dogs said he hopes to see some sort of justice.
“It looked like a scene from the holocaust,” he said. “There is no excuse for what he has put those animals through.”
Crooms is the same man accused in 2009 of posing as a funeral home employee to collect identity information from at least five job seekers.
(True Citizen - Jan 14, 2015)