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2 charged in seizure of more than 400 animals in Habersham
Tina Bowen, a volunteer with the Habersham County Animal Shelter, places a confiscated dog into a pen April 14. The seizure of the animals is the largest-ever in the county. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Two Habersham County residents have each been charged with 340 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals after county animal control seized more than 400 dogs, cats and livestock from their property just outside of Clarkesville.

Along with the animal cruelty charges, Teresa and Clarence Bramblett were charged with one count each of holding or possessing a game animal without a permit. Madi Hawkins, director of Habersham animal control, said it was a squirrel.

The Brambletts were charged after Habersham County Animal Care and Control seized the largest-ever cache of animals in the county beginning April 12. A total 446 animals have been seized from the Brambletts, including puppies and kittens that have been born since the work began. There are a few pregnant animals left that will increase the tally in the coming days.

Bond was set at $10,000 for both defendants, who turned themselves in to the Habersham County Detention Center on Wednesday, according to Hawkins. Each count of misdemeanor animal cruelty carries a possible penalty of a maximum $1,000 fine and one year in jail.

The charges were brought by the county based on “a combination of living conditions, access to a balanced diet and potable water,” Hawkins said. “There were a few that were considered emaciated. The majority of them were listed as underweight.”

A loose dog was found by animal control, and the Brambletts wasn’t charged for the condition of that animal. The Brambletts also aren’t being charged for the livestock on the property.

“With my name being attached to these warrants, I’m going to issue what I can stand behind in court,” Hawkins said. “It’s going to be difficult to get a neglect conviction on a chicken.”

Both posted bail, according to the Habersham County Clerk of Courts, and a court date has not been set. The case is being heard by Habersham County State Court Judge Steven Campbell.

The list of animals at the property includes dogs, cats, goats, sheep, donkeys, pigs, chickens, ducks, doves, chinchillas, a llama, a horse and the squirrel, according to Hawkins.

Hawkins said the Brambletts recently moved to the area.

Forty dogs are being kept by Habersham County animal control to be adopted at a later date. Most of the rest of the animals have been distributed to Georgia shelters working with Habersham County, including some dogs that were brought to the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia in Gainesville last week.

Animal control officers from Habersham and nearby counties, with the help of area humane societies and the Humane Society of the United States, worked nonstop for days collecting, cleaning and treating the cache of animals discovered in mid-April.

People have donated approximately $5,000 and between three and four pallets of dog food to the department since April 12.

Contact information was not immediately available for the Brambletts, and no attorney for the Brambletts was listed with the Habersham County Clerk of Courts.

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