Monday, July 27, 2009

Dog hoarder in Lonestar found guilty of animal cruelty

JEFFERSON — A 115th District Court jury has found Barbara Britton Holtz, 70, guilty of one count of animal cruelty and acquitted her on a second.

Animal cruelty is a Class A misdemeanor offense and Ms. Holtz received a one-year, probated sentence, said Marion County District Attorney Bill Gleason. She was assessed a $500 fine and ordered to pay court costs.

Ms. Holtz is appealing the conviction, Gleason added. Defense attorney is Jim Finstrom of Jefferson.

Charges against Ms. Holtz stem from SPCA's seizure more than a year ago of 83 dogs from a house in which she was residing illegally in the Lakeland Addition of Lone Star, northwest of Jefferson.

Gleason said he decided to try Ms. Holtz on the animal cruelty charges after it came to his attention that she had violated the terms of a probated sentence assessed as a result of a guilty verdict handed down Sept. 10, 2008, by another 115th District Court jury.

On the morning of July 10, 2008, staff members with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas arrived at a brick residence at 119 Lakeland Drive.

Shortly before their arrival, a deputy with Marion County Sheriff's Office executed four Rusk County warrants for misdemeanor animal cruelty and destruction of property and transported Ms. Holtz to jail.

SPCA rounded up more than 45 dogs running loose on the property and held in outside pens and then seized more than 30 from the interior of the house..."  More

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