ATLANTA, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A northern Michigan woman faces up to four years in prison when she’s sentenced in an animal cruelty case involving dogs and miniature horses.
The Alpena News reports 35-year-old Jennifer Elen Tucker-Richard pleaded guilty Monday to one count of animal cruelty or abandonment and one count of killing or torturing animals. In exchange for her guilty plea, the court dropped an additional animal cruelty or abandonment charge, and two counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
Tucker-Richard is due back in court on April 22 for sentencing, where she could also be ordered to perform 500 hours of community service and pay fines totaling over $5,000.
Prosecutors say Montmorency County sheriff’s deputies in January confiscated 37 dogs and six miniature horses from Tucker-Richard’s property near Hillman, about 39 miles west of Alpena. Officials say the animals lacked basic care and didn’t have food, drinkable water or proper shelter.
According to court records, a number of the dogs were covered in feces, while others had bloody paws from clawing apart roadkill deer they were given for food. One dog was found nearly frozen to death.
Defense lawyer James Schmier said although Tucker-Richard admitted she was negligent in caring for the animals, she didn’t torture them.
“This is not an evil lady, this is not Michael Vick. This is not somebody breeding pit bulls so they can kill each other,” Schmier said in court.
Police took the dogs to Elk Country Animal Shelter and the horses to a farm near Atlanta, where they were treated and cared for by volunteers. Many are now up for adoption.
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