Animal Legal Defense Fund Urges Tough Sentencing for Local Woman Guilty of Neglecting Hundreds of Animals

Posted on September 14, 2006

Franklinville, N.Y. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is urging
the judge and district attorney in a local case of mass animal cruelty
to set conditions preventing convicted abuser Bonnie George from
continuing to own animals at her resentencing this evening in
Franklinville. In December of 2005, the New York State Police and
Cattaraugus County SPCA officials seized 44 dogs from George’s property
in conditions they described as "deplorable." According to a report in
the Olean Times Herald, the dogs were being kept in a shed with
multiple dogs crowded in filthy cages. More dogs, cats, and 130 horses,
observed by a veterinarian to have overgrown and cracked hooves,
remained on her property. George and her husband, Donald, were charged
with multiple counts of neglect and plead guilty. However,
outrageously, the judge declined to follow the recommendations of the
probation department to limit the number of animals she had and to
monitor the animals and conditions on her property, and merely ordered
two years probation and a fine. In
the meantime, the SPCA and the D.A. have received new complaints of
abuse, and there are now, according to the SPCA, reportedly 50 dogs and
150 horses on the convicted abuser’s property. George will be resentenced this evening:

When: Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, 7:00 pm

Where: Farmersville Town Court, Franklinville (Lake St., Route 98)

ALDF is also working with the Cattaraugus County SPCA on their signed
complaint to be filed today via fax with the New York State Commission
on Judicial Conduct’s Rochester office asking for an investigation into
whether Judge Jennifer Holmes has a financial interest in the case in
seeing the Georges keep their animals, since she allegedly works at the
feed mill at which the Georges buy feed. They are also urging an
investigation into Holmes’ incompetence in levying an illegal, not to
mention inadequate, original sentence, which allows George to continue
to abuse animals. The judge’s original sentence of two years probation
is not a legal sentence, which is the reason behind tonight’s
resentencing.

ALDF’s Managing Senior Attorney Dana Campbell sent a letter to Holmes
yesterday, urging her to recommend the strongest possible sentence
against Ms. George, including: a three-year probation term; mandatory
psychiatric evaluations and counseling; a meaningful fine; restitution
to the care providers for the costs of caring for the animals;
forfeiture of all of the animals; periodic inspection of defendant’s
property; and an order prohibiting her from owning, harboring, or
having custody or control of any animals. "It is imperative that that
all animals be removed from the George’s property, and that she be
barred from owning or harboring other animals in the future," says
Campbell. "Neglect toward animals usually goes unseen and unheard, but
is often more egregious than outright violent abuse because the animals
suffer in silence for long periods of time — sometimes their entire
miserable lives. Research shows that if animal hoarders are not
adequately penalized, it is highly likely that they will continue to
commit the same crimes in the future–as we are, sadly, already seeing
in the case of Bonnie George."

Local residents and media correspondents are urged to contact
the Judge Holmes and Cattaraugus County ADA Jack Luzier regarding the
issue of judicial misconduct in this case. Copies of ALDF’s letter to
Judge Holmes, and the judicial misconduct complaint, are available upon
request. ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting
the lives and defending the interests of animals through the legal
system.