A Habersham County couple pleaded not guilty to 340 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty stemming from the April seizure of more than 400 animals from their property near Clarkesville.
Teresa and Clarence Bramblett appeared in Habersham County Superior Court on Wednesday. Teresa Bramblett’s lawyer is Henry Simmons of Cornelia, according to the Habersham County Clerk of Court. Simmons did not return a request for comment. Clarence Bramblett is still finding legal representation.
Habersham County Solicitor General William Oliver, who is prosecuting the case on behalf of the state, said it’s likely to go to trial rather than be decided by a judge. If taken to a jury, the trial will probably take place in October because of the court schedule.
The Brambletts have each been charged with the 340 counts of animal cruelty and one count each of holding or possessing a game animal (a squirrel) without a permit.
Oliver said he couldn’t comment on the details of the case.
Habersham County Animal Control Director Madi Hawkins previously described the condition of the animals as “deplorable.”
“They were living in filth and feces and urine,” Hawkins said. “There were maggots present in some of these cages. The majority were housed outdoors in long rows of kennels.”
The Humane Society of Northeast Georgia has started an online petition requesting that the couple be prosecuted “to the fullest extent possible” and that none of the animals seized be returned to them. The petition has more than 1,000 signatures.
Staff and volunteers of the society attended the arraignment on Wednesday, and some carried signs that said “stop animal cruelty.”
In early April, Habersham County Animal Control responded to a barking complaint at a home on the edge of Clarkesville. A short inspection by an animal control officer led to the discovery of more than 350 animals, most of them dogs, in outdoor cages on the property.
That number, through births and more discoveries, grew to almost 450 animals in the days after the seizure — making it by far the largest-ever seizure of animals in Habersham County.
The dogs, cats and some of the livestock were cleaned, cared for and sorted for days at the Habersham County Fairgrounds by animal control, veterinarians and the Humane Society of the United States.
Most of the dogs have been sent to other Georgia shelters and humane societies for adoption.