Hawkins mother, daughter charged with 68 counts of animal cruelty each

Jeff Bobo • May 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Updated at 11 p.m.

MOORESBURG — Hawkins County animal rescuers who thought they’d seen everything said living conditions discovered over the weekend at the homes of a Mooresburg mother and daughter were among the worst they’ve ever seen for both animals and humans.

The mother and daughter were charged Sunday with 68 counts of animal cruelty after a large number and variety of animals were allegedly found to be malnourished and living in “unfit,” “disgusting,” and “deplorable” conditions at two adjacent residences.

Ann Shirley Barber, 72, 601 Route 31, Mooresburg, and her daughter, Michelle Ann Barber, 51, 603 Route 31, Mooresburg, were released from the Hawkins County jail on $500 bond Monday after being arraigned in Sessions Court.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Mark Harrell initially responded to a complaint of neglected animals at the Barbers’ residences Saturday afternoon. At that time, Harrell allegedly observed several animals that appeared to be malnourished — some of the animals were in cages filled with feces and covered with feces themselves.

Harrell returned to the residence Sunday afternoon and was assisted by representatives from multiple agencies, including the Hawkins County Humane Society, Treadway Equine Animal Rescue Sanctuary (TEARS), and University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension agent Bob Moncier.

Among the animals rescued from the two Barber residences were 28 dogs, 18 rabbits, eight cats, six chickens, four goats, two horses, one pony and one donkey.

There was also a dead horse on the property that had been covered with lime. Rescuers said there was tall grass on the property, but the horses were kept in a muddy area where they couldn’t reach the grass.

Harrell stated in his report that there were also three dogs in particular that were “severely emaciated.”

Harrell arrested both mother and daughter Sunday and charged them with 68 counts each of cruelty to animals. Both have a trial date set for May 29.

Hawkins County Humane Society Vice President Danny Alvis was among several volunteers who responded to the Barbers’ residences Sunday evening to help rescue the animals.

“I have never in my life saw anything as disgusting as this was,” Alvis said. “(Garbage) was piled three, four, five foot high throughout every room in the house, and both houses were the same.”

Alvis said there were occupied animal cages inside both houses, as well as animals running loose inside both houses. He said volunteers had to search the house thoroughly because there were cages stashed everywhere.

Luckily, Alvis lifted a tarp and found a cat in a cage that might otherwise have been overlooked.

“It was unlivable for the animals, let alone for the humans,” Alvis said. “The mother lived in one house and the daughter lived in the other one. It was the nastiest, filthiest place that I have ever encountered in my life.”

Alvis added, “These people need some kind of help. I couldn’t comprehend when the deputy called me and told me how nasty it was, but when I got down there I saw what he was describing.”

The Humane Society took all the animals except the two horses, pony and donkey, which were taken by TEARS. In the past three weeks TEARS had taken in 21 horses and donkeys, including four from Mount Carmel two weeks ago, 13 from AFG Road in Church Hill last week, and now these four.

The other Mooresburg animals were rescued by the Humane Society.

The other animals were to be seen by volunteer veterinarians from Lincoln Memorial University Monday evening and Tuesday.

Roni Vleminckx serves on the Hawkins County Humane Society board of directors, as well as the Animal Resource Center (ARC) board of directors in Blountville.

Vleminckx arranged for the vets to examine, evaluate and treat the Mooresburg animals Monday.

After they are evaluated, many are expected to be transferred to Blountville’s ARC clinic, which has a grooming area. Vleminckx said the goal is to clean them up and treat them so they can be adopted.

“It’s probably the most deplorable thing I’ve ever seen,” Vleminckx said Monday. “Some of them are just horribly (malnourished). They’re covered in ticks, they’re covered in fleas, some of their nails are going all the way around and into the pad. ... Once we get them cleaned up we have stainless steel crates to house them in, and get them the care they need.”

In past years, Tri-Cities area law enforcement agencies might discover one or two really bad animal neglect and/or cruelty situations every year. Recently, however, the number of cases seems to be on the rise. Hawkins County alone has had three highly publicized cases in the past three weeks, and all three involved at least one dead horse.

“It’s very frustrating when you see the shape these poor little things are in,” Vleminckx said. “I think it’s worse (now) than it’s ever been because the economic times are so bad for people. Especially the huge livestock — the horses, the cattle. They (the Barbers) had a little bit of everything. We’ve got our hands full, and it’s a little bit overwhelming, but we’re on the right road to get them taken care of.”


MOORESBURG — A Hawkins County mother and daughter were charged Sunday with 68 counts of animal cruelty after a large number and variety of animals were allegedly found to be malnourished living in “unfit” conditions.

Ann Shirley Barber, 72, 601 Rt. 31, Mooresburg; and her daughter Michelle Ann Barber, 51, 603 Rt. 31, Mooresburg, were arrested Sunday following a two day Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

Among the animals found at the Barber residences were 28 dogs, 18 rabbits, eight cats, six chickens, four goats, two horses, one pony and one donkey.

Many of the dogs, cats and rabbits were allegedly living in cages full of feces, and many of the animals were also covered with feces.

Arresting HCSO Deputy Mark Harrell stated in his report that there were three dogs in particular that were “severely emaciate.”

See Tuesday’s edition of the times-News for a complete report.

Recommended for You