A Rosenberg woman received the maximum probationary term last week after pleading guilty to cruelty to animal charges.
Betty Spencer McClendon, 61, was convicted and sentenced to the maximum probationary term allowed by law after pleading guilty to 32 counts of cruelty to animals.
She was charged with abusing 32 cocker spaniel dogs after an investigation in May 2009, according to the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office.
The case was featured on the Animal Planet network.
McClendon pleaded guilty to all 32 counts of knowingly and recklessly failing to provide necessary food, water, care and shelter to the cocker spaniels. She was then sentenced to 365 days in jail, probated for 24 months, which is the maximum term of probation allowed for a Class A misdemeanor, officials with the district attorney's office said.
McClendon was prosecuted in County Court at Law No. 1 before Judge Ben W. "Bud" Childers.
Requirements of the defendant's probation include serving 15 days in jail, paying a fine plus court costs, performing community service and the continued timely repayment of the costs incurred treating the animals by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as ordered by Fort Bend County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Gary Janssen in the seizure hearing.
McClendon is not allowed to have any additional pets, or involve herself in any animal breeding or care, during the period of her probation. She is also prohibited from participating in any animal-related clubs or associations.
She will also be evaluated for mental health issues and obtain any necessary treatment at the direction of the Fort Bend County Community Corrections and Supervision Department. Cruelty to Animals in this case is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine up to $4,000 on each conviction.
Because all 32 charges occurred at the same time, the punishment must be served concurrently.
Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigators and Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office Deputy Bill Jenkins responded to a call to Reinhard Road in Rosenberg on May 29, 2009, regarding abused dogs, said Assistant District Attorney Sherry Robinson.
Upon arrival at McClendon's property, investigators found a well-kept residence, with a large, wooden-fenced back yard. The homeowner, Dale McClendon, Betty's husband, allowed investigators into the back yard where a large tented area held several birdcages containing parakeets in various stages of neglect and decline.
But authorities also discovered a large metal building smelling strongly of ammonia and feces, and Dale McClendon opened the building to reveal 32 cocker spaniel dogs stacked in wire cages without air conditioning.
"All of the dogs were in deplorable condition, lacking adequate food and water," the release said. "Authorities promptly obtained seizure warrants from Fort Bend County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Gary Janssen. All 32 dogs and the parakeets were taken to the Houston SPCA."
Evidence presented during the hearing revealed that the defendant ran a dog breeding business and some of the dogs were sent to her for breeding purposes. Due to the efforts of the SPCA and volunteers, all but one of the dogs survived to be given to loving homes., Janssen said.
Assistant district attorneys Sherry Robinson and Lesleigh Saunders prosecuted the case. Attorney Paul Cedillo represented the defendant.