Billy Stewart, 29, was found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty by a jury on Friday in Memphis. The former Memphis Animal Shelter employee had denied all charges of wrongdoing since numerous reports into inhumane treatment of animals, dog fighting, and missing dogs prompted an undercover police investigation in November 2011.
According to the Commercial Appeal, Stewart was found guilty of four counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Undercover police officers testified in court how Stewart would strangle the dogs with the catch pole prior to euthanizing them.
The Memphis Animal Shelter has been wrought with sadness and tragedy as reports of employees abusing and torturing dogs and cats fated to be euthanized became public. Two other employees pleaded guilty to animal cruelty last September. Archie Elliot III, 28, pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated animal cruelty and was sentenced to two years in prison. Frank Lightfoot, 59, who was described as showing great remorse, pleaded guilty to four counts of animal cruelty and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.
The men were witnessed holding a dog and choking him over the sink. The dog was so scared, he defecated and urinated. Elliot was seen injecting fatal drugs directly into the chests of animals without sedation. The pain suffered by an animal is heartbreaking, as a fully awake animal will scream out in agonizing pain.The American Veterinary Medical Association states the use of heart sticks is inhumane if the animals are not first heavily sedated. Other methods of humane euthanasia were available at the shelter.
In April, prosecutors dismissed animal cruelty charges against the former director, Ernest Alexander and his former administrative supervisor, Tina Quattlebam. They had been charged with multiple counts of animal neglect in the starving deaths of dogs.
Last October, Dr. Angela Middleton, the shelter veterinarian was also acquitted of aggravated animal cruelty.
“May there now have been some justice for all of the suffering the dogs and cats had to endure,” stated Michael Burdge, Point Pleasant, N.J. At a time when a dog or cat senses something horrible about to happen to them, treating them so cruelly as if their lives didn’t matter was illegal, irresponsible and heartless.”
Rest in peace all of the dogs and cats who suffered at this shelter.
Please check out the slide show of available dogs waiting to find their “furever” homes. If you would like more information on these beautiful, adoptable cuties, please check out the Facebook page of the Friends of Memphis Animal Shelter.
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