Two people are each facing 134 counts of animal cruelty after being pulled over by Tazewell Police early Saturday morning.
According to reports, Charlie Gregory, 58, of Pineville, Ky., and Taniciah Little, 54, of Andersonville, Tenn., were pulled over for having a broken taillight around 2 a.m. Officers then found 134 animals packed into the back of the horse trailer they were pulling.
The animals were seized. Gregory and Little were taken to the Claiborne County Jail.
The Claiborne Animal Shelter is now the temporary home for the animals. Board member Michael Barrett was called to the scene to look at the animals.
“The animals were definitely not being treated well,” said Liza Martz, executive director for the shelter.
According to Martz, Dr. Mark Russell, a local veterinarian, said the dogs were only 25 to 50 percent of the body weight they should be. Several rabbits had ear infections, and one chicken had already died as of Sunday afternoon.
“There was a full-sized beagle packed into a nine-inch crate not tall enough for him to stand in,” she said.
After the call for help came in to the shelter, volunteers started coming in around 3 a.m. Saturday. Even volunteer trustees were utilized when Sheriff David Ray let them come in from the jail.
“The sheriff has been absolutely wonderful to us,” said Martz. “We truly would not be able to stay open without him and his help.”
In all, there were seven dogs, 100 chickens, nine peacocks and 18 rabbits.
The shelter costs $10,000 to $12,000 a month to operate, and that’s with an entirely volunteer staff. It operates solely on donations. The extra animals are definitely an added burden. However, shelter volunteers vowed to make certain the animals are cared for at this time.
“We don’t know how long we’ll have to keep them, but we can’t adopt any of them out until the criminal case is decided,” said Martz.
Sunday, volunteers were busy at work building temporary chicken coops and trying to find a place for all the animals.
Rabbits had been placed in a puppy room. Some chickens were in dog cages. Clearly, animals filled the facility with staff utilizing all areas possible.
The shelter is asking for the public’s help. Immediate needs include Purina Puppy Chow, rabbit feed, cracked corn for chicken feed, animal carriers in all sizes, bleach, high efficiency (HE) laundry detergent, baking soda, Dawn dish detergent, cat litter, paper towels, toilet paper and plastic bags.
Monetary donations are needed more than anything, said shelter coordinator Randy Bullen. He said Walmart and Tractor Supply gift cards are also needed. An easy way to donate on a regular basis is through PayPal, which can be found on the shelter’s website at www.claiborneanimalshelter.com.
Since opening, the shelter has taken in over 1,400 animals, Bullen said.
The adoption rate is high, he said, adding it has one of the lowest euthanasia rates in East Tennessee, if not the entire state. Many of the dogs that come into the shelter are taken to groups all over the country.
“We’ve taken dogs to 25 states and Canada,” he said, noting there is always a need for animal transporters and foster homes.
Gregory and Little were being held on $1,000 bond for each count of animal cruelty. They were expected to be arraigned Monday or Tuesday.
To donate to the Claiborne Animal Shelter or to see other ways you can help, contact them at (423) 626-2686.