Man charged in dog cruelty case

Published 5:38 pm Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office has charged a man with animal cruelty in connection with deputies’ discovery on Monday of seven pit bulls left abandoned and severely neglected.

Forty-six-year-old Terry Bernard Jackson, of 116 Screen St. in the Fowlstown community, was arrested shortly before midnight on Wednesday, according to the Decatur County Jail.

Jackson is charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals, and two probation violations—one on the original charge of driving with a suspended license and another on the original charge of dogfighting.

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The cruelty to animals charges stems from the discovery of the seven pit bulls, who were in very poor health after being abandoned and uncared for at a property on Florence Avenue, off Whigham Dairy Road. Deputies and County Animal Control Officer Chris Sapp went to the property Monday night and rescued the dogs from the bad situation with the assistance of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society.

However, according to Lt. Rick Ashley of the Sheriff’s Office, five of the dogs that were rescued eventually had to be euthanized because of their poor medical condition.

Lt. Ashley, who coordinates the department’s animal control and code enforcement operations and had been working on the case since Tuesday morning, said deputies had attempted to arrest Jackson on Wednesday afternoon at his mother’s residence on Screen Street in Fowlstown. However, Jackson allegedly ran out of the home’s back door when he saw deputies coming up the driveway.

On Wednesday night, Sgt. Patrick Trolinger and other deputies apprehended Jackson at his girlfriend’s residence on Whigham Dairy Road, Ashley said.

Deputies brought Jackson back to the Sheriff’s Office, where he was questioned and confessed to having owned and cared for the dogs, Ashley said Thursday. According to Ashley, Jackson stated that he had stopped feeding and caring for the dogs after losing his job. Jackson stated to deputies that he estimated it had been about 10 days to two weeks since he had last checked on the dogs.

However, according to Beth Eck, director of the Humane Society’s Animal Shelter, the dogs were noticeably malnourished and appeared to have been abandoned for at least one to three months.

Under Georgia law, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor offense. The law provides penalties of up to a year in jail or up to $5,000 in fines upon a second or subsequent offense.