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No bond for Hawkins man accused of abandoning nine dogs to starve

Jeff Bobo • Aug 29, 2019 at 6:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — A Hawkins County man accused of abandoning nine dogs to starve at a mobile home park near Church Hill will spend the Labor Day weekend in jail without bond.

On Wednesday morning the Hawkins County Sheriff's office served an arrest warrant for nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty on Benjamin James Reece, 35, 352 Payne Ridge Road, Lot 5, Church Hill.

The warrant was issued on Friday, Aug. 23, by HCSO Sgt. Stacy Vaughan after Second Chance Rescue founder Kendra Hall located eight starving dogs and one that was deceased at Reece's mobile home park.

Reece is the owner and landlord of the mobile home park, and some of his neighbors reportedly told Vaughan he'd been gone for about 11 days before the dogs were rescued last Friday.

Hall, who brought a group of volunteers to rescue the surviving dogs, told the Times News the survivors were “very emaciated” and “at death's door.”

Vaughan described the surviving dogs in his report as “extremely emaciated, living in piles of their own feces.”

Mobile home park residents also reportedly stated that Reece also disappeared with the water for the entire mobile home park shut off, even though it is included in their rent, and the rent was paid up.

Reece was located by the HCSO Wednesday, Aug. 28, at a residence in Mountain City.

He will remain in jail without bond pending his arraignment scheduled in Hawkins County Sessions Court on Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Most of the dogs are in foster care, although two of them were staying at the Hawkins County Humane Society. All but three — a male shepherd and two pit bulls — were already in line to receive permanent homes.

All of the dogs are receiving vet care from Mountain Empire Small Animal Hospital in Johnson City. Anyone who wants to make a contribution to help pay for their care can call (423) 282-3771 and tell them it’s for the Second Chance Rescue dogs.

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