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Nelson County Couple Guilty of Animal Cruelty

May 8, 2012

A Nelson County couple was found guilty Monday of multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Nelson County Life reports, David "Tracy" Davis, 71, was found guilty of 14 counts of animal cruelty and his wife, Joyce Davis, 61, was found guilty of 15 counts.

Nelson County Circuit Court Judge Steve Helvin presided over the case. He said that while there was no actual abuse of these animals, there was neglect of many of them. Both were sentenced to 60 days in jail one each misdemeanor charge, but the judge suspended all jail time. They will also be prohibited from owning any companion animals or livestock for two years.

But that wasn't the end of Tracy Davis' day in court. Tuesday, he was found guilty of four counts of manufacturing alcohol - operating a moonshine still on his property - while possession a firearm. Nelson Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Gamble sentenced him to five years for each count - 20 years total - but again suspended all buy 90 days of the sentenced.

Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin says even with little jail time, the outcome still sends a message. "As tragic as it is for the animals, hopefully people will take a lesson from this that neglect can be just as criminal as intentional abuse," he said.

All these charges stem from a Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control raid on the couple's home in the Roseland area of the county in November. And what began as an investigation into an illegal moonshine operation turned into an inquiry into animal abuse.

They were each charged with 28 counts of animal cruelty after animal control agents had to rescue more than 100 animals from the property, at least half of which were dehydrated and malnourished dogs. A member of the State Veterinary Office in Richmond who was on the property during the raid testified that virtually none of the dogs had clean water and several had tumors, one of which was the size of a softball.

Davis will begin serving his 90-day sentence later this month, but that's still not the end of his legal troubles. He is also charged with harvesting bear gallbladders and selling them on the black market.

He will stand trial in federal court in June on those charges.

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