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Rescuer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Rescuer pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Arkansas man accused of killing 8 dogs faces $1,600 fine

May 10th, 2017 by Jim Williamson in Texarkana News

A man tasked with rescuing animals pleaded guilty to charges of cruelty Tuesday after allegedly shooting eight dogs to death. 

An animal rights activist shouted "I hope you rot in hell" across the courtroom before Brian Moore, 25, of Sevier County, Ark., was ordered to pay a $1,600 fine and serve 20 hours of community service.

Sevier County District Court Judge Manya Wood accepted guilty pleas to four counts of animal cruelty. Four counts were dismissed.

"It's sad. It's all sad," said Deputy Prosecutor Erin Hunter.

Moore will be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and receive counseling for animal cruelty.

Some of the animals had microchips from a Fort Worth, Texas, animal shelter, according to reports from Sevier County Sheriff's Department Investigator Brian Hankins.

The dogs were found dead at the house where Moore and his girlfriend, Whitney Smither, lived. Bones were scattered throughout the yard, Hankins said.

Smither, who moved to Indiana, has not been interviewed, arrested or charged in the case.

Moore was represented by Ashdown attorney Mickey Buchanan, who said the animals were getting aggressive and that his client had asked for help from animal rescue groups.

The dogs killed a calf, cats and other dogs, he said.

The case began unfolding on Nov. 29, 2016, when Whitney Harrison, executive director of Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue in Texarkana was called by Becca Gideon, who said several stray dogs had shown up at her house with a Fort Worth animal shelter identification tags.

Harrison said another woman in the area had made a posting on her Facebook page about dead dogs on the property she was renting, according to reports. She added Moore's girlfriend had left the area on Nov. 17, 2016, and Moore left town Nov. 18.

Harrison went to the house and discovered animal bones littering the yard and found at least eight dead animals, according to reports. She scanned the dead animals and most of them had microchips from Fort Worth, according to Hankins' report.

The investigation began Dec. 3, 2016, when Whitney Harrison, executive director of Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue in Texarkana, found several dead dogs and four living dogs at a residence on Bradley Chapel Road in the Central community, according to reports.

The couple was approved to foster dogs for the animal rescue in April 2016. Harrison said the couple pulled several dogs from a shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, under the local rescue's name.

The sheriff's department report states Hankins received confirmation from Ryan Jacobs of the Fort Worth Animal Cruelty Office that all the microchips came from a Fort Worth shelter.

Moore and his girlfriend pulled 127 dogs and cats from one shelter, according to reports.

On Dec. 6, Sevier County Chief Deputy Chad Dowdle interviewed Moore and he allegedly said he and his girlfriend worked with Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue.

Moore said they fostered dogs considered "unadoptable," and many of the dogs had pre-existing conditions such as heartworms or mange.

One of the dogs found dead on the property was a 1-year-old pit bull mix named Charlie, rescuers said. He had been hit by a car and used a canine wheelchair to get around.

On Dec. 8, Moore was charged with eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

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