Rebecca Bannister pleads guilty to cruelty to animals - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rebecca Bannister pleads guilty to cruelty to animals

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THOMAS COUNTY, GA (WALB) -

A south Georgia woman, accused of starving and mistreating dozens of horses, pleads guilty to two counts of cruelty to animals.

56-year old Rebecca Bannister accepted a plea deal that will allow her to avoid jail time.

The judge did sentence her to two-years probation, ordered her to pay $12,000 in restitution, and told her she can't get any of the seized animals back.

These horses are healthy and well today, but on February 21st, 2012, this is what they looked like.

"You measure the body score of nine being the best, one being the worst. Like I said the majority of them were under a two. And from where they were to where they are now is just unbelievable," said Animal Control Director Pat Smith.

After a five-month investigation, Animal Control and the Thomas County Sheriff's Office seized malnourished horses, donkeys, and other livestock from Rebecca Bannister and took them here to the Dancing Cloud Farm Horse Rescue.

"When we seized the horses it didn't stop there, Dancing Cloud Farm and all the networks, supporters, and foster homes took over from there. And they were working day and night with some of these horses," said Smith.

The volunteers at the Dancing Cloud were only supposed to house the animals confiscated from Bannister until her July, 2012 court date.

But the death of one judge and the recusal of another extended their stay.

While many of the horses have been fostered out, the Dancing Cloud Farm Horse Rescue has been caring for Bannister's horses for the last 436 days.

"When we knew we were going to seize these animals, I had no idea what we were going to do with them. I called Anita at Dancing Cloud and she said sure we'll help. We'll take them," said Smith.

Smith says she has a message for all potential animal cruelty offenders.

"We're just wanting the community to know and everyone to know, if you come into Thomas County, this is what is going to happen if you abuse your animals. We are not going to put up with it."

Dancing Cloud says over the last 436 days, the horses food and medical bills have totaled around $43,000.

Bannister was also told she has 10 days to turn over all of the paperwork for all the animals that were seized and decide whether she wants to appeal the sentence.

 

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