Penny Irene Whitehouse pled guilty to 5 counts of animal cruelty last week in the Macon County courtroom of Judge John D. Wootten, after ten horse carcasses and one dead donkey were found in 2015 on the 20 plus acre, Taurus Farm Road property she formerly inhabited.
Whitehouse, who was 54-years-old at the time of her arrest on February 11, 2015, was scheduled to stand trial on January 24, 2017, but it was postponed and a plea agreement was reached on January 26, according to Assistant District Attorney General Javin Cripps.
According to the facts presented by Assistant General Cripps - “In February of 2015, the Macon County’s Sheriff’s Office was called out to 475 Taurus Farm Road here in Macon County. Detective Ron Smith along with Animal Control Officer Corey Lawrence received a report of some animals that had basically deceased on the property. There was some new tenants there that had taken over control of the property and they had contacted law enforcement.
“When law officers arrived, they saw a scene of several acres where the landscape was barren. There was no sign of a hay ring or hay anywhere to be seen. This was in February, so this was during the winter months that this had occurred. There was no sign of feed in the barn or the sheds. There was no visible living animals at the scene upon their arrival.
“When they started inspecting the property, they did find ten dead horses and one dead donkey. They thought that it was a case of neglect, and if we had gone to trial, the State would have shown that it was a case of neglect and starvation due to a lack of feed based upon the fact that most of the trees had the bark chewed off and some large trees as high as ten feet had bark gone.
“Further inspection of the property revealed - it says multiple dead horses, colts, donkeys, and that they were exposed. They were in different stages of decay. Some of them had died sooner than the others, and there were also several mounds of dirt throughout the property which appeared to be the appropriate size for large animals’ graves.
“While walking the property, the officers found at least two more dead, what appeared to be horses, in the waterway of the creek on the back side. There also seemed to be more large farm animals that had died there as well.”
Assistant General Cripps stated later on in the proceedings that it was determined that prior to that February date, Ms. Whitehouse had lived there and that there was various reports that animals were running at large - horses, cows and things of that nature. “Law enforcement had been out there before,” Assistant General Cripps confirmed. “They had warned her and there had been some issues with her neighbors.
“The reason for the charges against Ms. Penny Whitehouse was that she abandoned those animals without proper feed or hay during the winter months,” the Assistant General pointed out.
Ms. Whitehouse was originally charged with 11 counts of cruelty to animals. She pled guilty to 5 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and received 11 months/29 days on each count - which was suspended to probation and no jail time to serve. The other counts were nollied as part of her plea agreement. She was fined $250 and court costs for each count.
Also as part of Ms. Whitehouse’s plea agreement, her nor any members of her household may own, care for, or have in their house any living creature, mammal, animal, birds, reptiles, fish or any other creature that may be deemed to be a pet or any type of livestock. This is a lifetime ban.