A Sampson County woman was given two years probation and a three-month suspended sentence in connection with a puppy mill raided by animal welfare and law enforcement investigators in February 2013, in which dozens of dogs were found in “deplorable conditions.”
Marilyn Selina Hall, 55, of 12301 Taylors Bridge Hwy., Magnolia, pleaded no contest on Thursday to three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals as part of a plea arrangement with the District Attorney's Office. Hall entered the plea in Sampson County District Court.
Hall was represented by attorney David Hobson; Assistant District Attorney Frank McQuade prosecuted the case for the state.
Following the plea, residing Judge Sarah C. Seaton sentenced Hall to two years of supervised probation and handed down a suspended sentence of two 45-day sentences, to be served consecutively, should she violate that probation. Hall was additionally fined $1,000 plus court costs and ordered not to reside with any animals, nor engage in the buying or selling of any animals for the entire period of her probation.
According to McQuade, Hall has 30 days to comply in removing all animals from her custody. During her two-year probation period, she will also be subject to premise searches.
“She entered her plea as part of an arranged agreement between the state and the defendants,” McQuade noted. “Pursuant to the agreement, other charges were dismissed against her and her husband as she took responsibility for the incident. Mr. Hall's charges were dismissed.”
Both Hall and her husband, Roger Carroll Hall, 63, were charged with nine misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals in August 2013. The couple were not jailed; there were released on unsecured bonds at that time.
Their arrest came about six months after more than 60 dogs were surrendered from their home to sheriff's deputies and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) workers in late February 2013, following a months-long probe into suspicions of cruelty at the facility.
A variety of small-breed dogs suffering from a multitude of untreated medical conditions in cinder block buildings at Royal Acres kennel, located at the 12301 Taylors Bridge Hwy. address, near Delway. Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said that is was “heartbreaking to see these dogs in such poor condition” following his department's execution of the search warrant.
Documents released by the Sheriff's Office following the February 2013 raid showed that an HSUS investigative team visited Royal Acres in August 2012 in response to a citizen complaint of sick dogs at the facility, noting 70-80 dogs housed in a cinder block building with no ventilation, among other animal care issues.
Mrs. Hall was advised during that visit that she must provide the necessary veterinary care for the animals that were identified as either sick or injured by a licensed veterinarian. In late January 2013, local animal control officers went to Royal Acres to conduct a follow-up visit, but Mrs. Hall refused to allow them on the premises and failed to provide proof of a veterinary exam and treatment of the animals by a licensed veterinarian, according to reports.
By mid-February 2013, overall conditions of the two main cinder block kennels were in fair condition, however a “puppy building” consisting of 20-25 cinder block kennels with chain link doors trimmed with PVC pipe contained between 50-60 dogs, many of them puppies, reports stated.
“She also housed approximately 10 adult and senior dogs that clearly had medical issues ranging from ruptured tumors, severe skin irritation, pus-filled mouths, etc,” the reports state.
McQuade said Thursday's plea brought the case to its conclusion.
“All the charges as a result of the Royal Acres incident have been resolved,” he stated.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.