Ann Shirley Barber, 72, and Michelle Ann Barber, 51, who live in adjacent houses on Rt. 31 in Mooresburg, pleaded guilty Wednesday to four counts each of animal cruelty. They were originally charged with 68 counts each.
ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County mother and daughter charged in April on 68 counts each of animal cruelty won’t have to do jail time, but according to the terms of their plea bargain they also won’t be allowed to own any animals from now on without first receiving permission from the court.
Ann Shirley Barber, 72, 601 Route 31, Mooresburg, and her daughter, Michelle Ann Barber, 51, 603 Route 31, Mooresburg, were arrested April 21 after police found them, along with a large number and variety of animals, living in “unfit,” “disgusting,” and “deplorable” conditions at two adjacent residences.
On Wednesday the Barbers appeared before Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross and agreed to plead guilty to four counts each of cruelty to animals in exchange for two years of supervised probation, a $200 fine each, and they forfeit any interest in any of the animals that were seized from their residences.
Among the animals rescued from the two Barber residences on April 21 were 28 dogs, 18 rabbits, eight cats, six chickens, four goats, two horses, one pony and one donkey.
Since their arrest the Barbers had gone to the Hawkins County Humane Society more than once seeking have their animals returned to them.
Even Wednesday as the Barbers were negotiating their plea through their attorney Jefferson Fairchild they were attempting to have four dogs returned to them.
It turns out that three of two of those dogs have been adopted, one is being board privately, and one is gravely ill.
The Hawkins County Humane Society, which was the prosecuting agency in the case, refused to release any animals to the Barbers or to budge on the Barbers losing their right to own animals in the future.
“You are not to go to the animal shelter asking for the animals back,” Ross told the Barbers. “I told you not to do that and you did anyway, and that almost resulted in your bond being revoked and your being put in jail.”
HCSO Deputy Mark Harrell initially answered a request to check animal welfare at the Barbers’ residence on April 20 where he 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.
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.
There were also three dogs in particular that were “severely emaciated.”
The Humane Society took all the animals except the two horses, pony and donkey, which were taken by TEARS.