The Humane Society of the United States
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Drawn-out dog cruelty case in Alabama results in verdict of six felony counts of animal cruelty

Media Contact: Kirsten Peek: 301-548-7793,

Today in Houston County, Alabama, defendant Jerome Wesley Hughes was found guilty on six counts of felony animal cruelty and one misdemeanor. More than three years ago, The Humane Society of the United States and local authorities rescued approximately 65 dogs from a Cottonwood property after authorities determined that the animals were in urgent need of care. 

In the January 2015 case, authorities called The HSUS to provide animal cruelty experts, rescue responders and veterinarians to document the conditions and provide much needed treatment for the animals. The dogs suffered severe malnutrition that caused prolonged pain and suffering. The HSUS transported the dogs to an emergency shelter, where its Animal Rescue Team continued to provide care and rehabilitation for the dogs. Once forfeited by the courts, the dogs were placed with HSUS’ Emergency Placement Partners throughout the United States, as The HSUS continued to assist in the investigation and prosecution of this animal cruelty case.

“I am very thankful to the Cottonwood Police Department and to the Houston County District Attorney’s Office for obtaining justice for these dogs who were so terribly treated by their former owner,” said Mindy Gilbert, Alabama state director at The HSUS. “I’m thankful that we could help these dogs and offer assistance to local law enforcement to enable them to pursue this case. Alabama law is clear--being cruel to an animal is a crime.”

“I am proud to have been involved in this case from the start, and owe our immense gratitude to the Houston County Attorney’s Office and the Cottonwood Police Department for their unwavering dedication to seeing justice served for the 65 innocent dogs that endured prolonged pain and suffered at the hands of the defendant,” said Chris Schindler, who was on staff with The HSUS at the time of the rescue and is now vice president of field services for Humane Rescue Alliance of Washington, DC.