Hawkins woman surrenders neglected chickens, rabbits to avoid cruelty charge

Jeff Bobo • Feb 1, 2020 at 1:30 PM

CARTERS VALLEY — A Hawkins County woman agreed Tuesday to surrender four fighting rooster, four hens, four rabbits and two cats to the Hawkins County Humane Society to avoid being cited into court for cruelty to animals.

On Tuesday, the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office and staff from the Humane Society responded to a residence on Carters Valley Road near Mount Carmel due to a complaint from a concerned neighbor about animals being neglected.

HCHS manager Sandy Behnke told the Times News that as her staff and the HCSO walked the property, they noticed several chickens and roosters in small wire cages with no food or clean water, and standing in muddy water.

One of the birds had a broken leg that stood out parallel to the ground, and the property owner reportedly stated it had been like that for about a year. 

Deputies and the HCHS also reportedly noticed one small black rabbit in a wire cage on the ground, and three more rabbits in cages which Behnke said didn’t appear to have been cleaned in a long time.

“Those poor rabbits,” Behnke said. “She said, ‘They’ve been cleaned out.’ I said, ‘These haven’t been cleaned out.’ Then she said, ‘I don’t have time.’ ”

Behnke added, “Their fur was matted and they were pitiful. I advised officers on scene that I was not happy with the conditions of these animals. The owner of the property said the chickens belong to her boyfriend. We asked her to contact him, which she declined to do.”

There had also been a complaint about neglected cats and dogs.

Behnke said there were three dogs and six cats inside the home, but they were well fed and didn’t appear to be neglected.

However, the cats were in a bedroom, with two in one cage and four in the other. Behnke determined four in one cage was too many, and the HCHS seized two of those cats.

“The rabbits are hers, and the cats inside the house were her daughter’s,” Behnke said. “I only took two cats. They weren’t malnourished. But there was just so many in a cage, in a closed room, and it was horrible (smelling) when I walked in there.”

Behnke added, “The rabbits were my main issue. The black one isn’t bad, but there are two — the white one and the beige one — their fur is so matted we’re actually going to have to go to a groomer and get them fixed up before they can be adopted.”

As of Friday, all the chickens had been adopted. Behnke said each rooster was paired with a hen and adopted together. She will advertise on the HCHS Facebook page when the rabbits are ready for adoption. The cats can be adopted anytime.

“I would like to thank Sgt. Nathan Simpson and Officer Kyle Shively, along with Steve Almond from the HCSO and all my staff, for doing a wonderful job on this rescue.”

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