Maplesville woman pleads guilty to three charges of animal cruelty

Published 5:05 pm Friday, June 20, 2014

A Maplesville woman pleaded guilty to three charges of dog or cat cruelty in the second degree on Thursday.

Britny Heather Cleckler, 25, was arrested in April on seven counts of dog/cat cruelty after an officer with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department found several dogs without adequate water, shelter or food.

A bench trial was scheduled Thursday afternoon before Chilton County District Judge Rhonda Hardesty.

Cleckler appeared before Hardesty where she entered a guilty plea to three misdemeanor charges with four of the charges dropped.

Hardesty placed Cleckler on two years probation and ordered her to pay $3,000 ($1,000 for each of the three charges) and $2,077 in restitution to the Chilton County Humane Society, which received the animals from Cleckler’s property. She also will serve 40 hours of community service at the Humane Society.

Cleckler is also not allowed to own any animals during her probation period.

If Cleckler fails to comply with the terms of her probation, she could face up to three years in the Chilton County Jail.

Alabama law states that a person commits a crime of cruelty to a dog or cat in the second degree if he or she, in a cruel manner, “overloads, overdrives, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, unnecessarily or cruelly beats, injures, mutilates, or causes the same to be done.”

Cruelty to a dog or cat in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

According to Cleckler’s arrest warrants for the three charges she pleaded guilty to, Cleckler failed to provide adequate water, shelter or food to a female Blue Pit Bull and two Great Pyrenees dogs.

The Chilton County Humane Society received four pit bulls from Cleckler’s property and the two Great Pyrenees dogs who were made available for adoption and pet foster care.

Two witnesses were subpoenaed for the bench trial including Chilton County Humane Society Director Jessica Terry and Maplesville Animal Control Officer Kenny Barrett.

Both Terry and Barrett were present in court on Thursday but did not go before Hardesty to testify.

Terry said after Cleckler’s hearing she hopes the case will bring awareness to how individuals treat their animals.

“Animal cruelty is becoming too common,” Terry said. “People think they can mistreat their animals and get away with it, but it is a serious crime.”