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Former Gainesville woman pleads not guilty in death of 2 dogs in her care
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Michelle Louise Root - photo by Forsyth News

A former Gainesville resident charged in separate incidents for the death of two dogs in her care pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges on Wednesday, May 2.

Michelle Louise Root, a former Forsyth County dog groomer and now a Royston resident, faces the charges from incidents in 2016 and 2017.

She was confronted by a number of protesters holding #Justice4Meko signs during her court appearance.

Root, former owner of Paw’sh Paws in Cumming, was formally charged in early April with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty and is accused of kicking, choking and otherwise harming two dogs, according to indictment documents.

Root was first arrested Oct. 11, 2017, after witnesses of an Oct. 7, 2017, incident filed reports with Cumming Police Department. The indictment alleged that during this incident, Root “did maliciously cause the death of an animal named Meko, by kicking said dog, and by choking said dog with a lead.”

According to law enforcement records, Root was arrested again on Oct. 17, 2017, for additional charges stemming from an incident in March 2016. Root is also accused of “maliciously” causing harm to another dog named Little Boy on March 2, 2016, “by rupturing said dog’s spleen,” stated the indictment.

In the wake of these incidents in October 2017, “Meko’s Law” proposed changes to the laws covering licenses for people who handle animals. By February 2018, Forsyth County commissioners voted to approve new rules for the tethering of animals, changes to the adoption rules for animals from county shelters and other changes meant to protect local pets.

Under the new ordinance, animals cannot be tethered when the dog is not in the “physical presence” of the owner or custodian, and anyone adopting from the county shelter will now have to sign paperwork certifying they have not been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect in 10 years.

Root’s next court appearance will be a calendar call hearing on June 8, where a trial date could be set.

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