New London woman receives jail term for animal cruelty

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:13 PM

A New London woman was convicted of two animal cruelty charges Tuesday in Norwalk Municipal Court.

Donna Dennis, 41, of 1056 Ohio 60, is scheduled to report to the Huron County Jail for a 60-day sentence in about 30 days. She pleaded no contest to two counts of cruelty to animals and in exchange, the state dropped two remaining charges.

Judge John Ridge prohibited Dennis from owning or possessing any animals or live in the same residence as an animal during her five years of probation. Court records further show she was fined a total of $200 and $86 in costs.

"I'm glad to know she's not going to be putting animals at risk by owning animals for the next five years," Norwalk Assistant Law Director T. Douglas Clifford said.

On Feb. 19, investigators found a slew of dead and neglected animals at the Dennis home when they used a search warrant. Authorities took custody of four dogs two days later because they were considered to be in the worst shape.

The investigators had received a tip from a woman whose husband had helped Dennis and her husband remove multiple dead animals from the inside of the home. The husband, who was last at the home in early February, started working for her in January.

On March 17, Dennis released 14 dogs, four turtles and two hamsters to the Huron County Humane Society. Operations manager Ken Stewart, as of early April, said the organization had placed "quite a few animals" in new homes.

"She has found a home for quite a few," said Karla Williams, a Humane Society investigator, after an April 1 pretrial conference.

In a statement released in March, Williams said conditions at Dennis' former home were "adequate" and had improved, but still weren't "perfect." She also mentioned she was keeping "a close eye on the animals that remain in her possession" at the time.

Clifford gave a brief update this morning.

"According to the defendant's attorney, there are approximately 10 animals at the property that are in possession of a partner in a kennel business," the prosecutor said.

It's unknown how long Dennis was running a kennel in rural New London. The Humane Society has referred to Dennis as a "hoarder," someone who becomes overwhelmed when taking care of multiple animals. Williams has said hoarders need counseling.

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