Utica Couple Accused in Animal Abuse Case Sentenced to Probation

| January 31, 2020

CANAL TWP., Pa. (ETY) – Two Utica residents who kept over 50 dogs in deplorable conditions were sentenced to probation on Friday.

Court documents indicate Judge Robert L. Boyer sentenced 72-year-old Barbara Jean Ferguson and 75-year-old Samuel Lopez to seven years of probation each on Friday, January 31.

According to the court documents, Ferguson and Lopez were both sentenced to seven years of probation on each of ten third-degree felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death, with the sentences to run concurrently for an aggregate sentence of seven years of probation each.

Ferguson and Lopez each pleaded guilty to the above charges on Thursday, November 14.

As a result of the plea agreements, the following charges were dismissed:

  • Aggravated Cruelty to Animals – Torture, Felony 3 (ten counts)
  • Cruelty to Animals, Misdemeanor 2 (twenty-four counts)
  • Neglect of Animals – Sustenance/Water, Misdemeanor 3 (twenty-four counts)
  • Divest of all Dogs Numbering Over 25, Misdemeanor 3 (twenty-three counts)
  • Neglect of Animals – Shelter/Protection, Misdemeanor 3 (twenty-four counts)
  • Cruelty to Animals, Summary (fourteen counts)
  • Neglect of Animals – Sustenance/Water, Summary (fourteen counts)
  • Neglect of Animals – Vet Care, Summary (fourteen counts)
  • Neglect of Animals – Shelter/Protection, Summary (fourteen counts)
  • Unlawful to Operate Kennel Without License, Summary
  • Vaccination against Rabies Required – 4 to 12 weeks old, Summary (forty-eight counts)
  • Application Dog License/Fees, Penalties, Summary (forty-eight counts)

The charges stem from a cease and desist order served in December 2018.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Assistant District Attorney Brenda Servidio, on December 10, 2018, Dog Warden Kane Kuzlor, members of the Venango County Sheriff’s Department, and members of the A.N.N.A. (Association for Neglected and Needy Animals) were present at the residence of Samuel Lopez and Barbara Jean Ferguson (also known as Barbara Jean Lopez) on Chestnut Grove Road in Utica, Canal Township, to complete a cease and desist order resulting in the ultimate removal of 48 dogs kept within the premises of the mobile home.

According to the complaint, the conditions of the residence included a caved in floor, debris, torn up furniture, and feces and urine throughout with a corresponding overwhelming odor of feces and urine. Four dozen dogs with obvious outward appearances of severe neglect were found on the premises, including one located in a birdcage, while others were located under the flooring.

The dogs were removed by the agencies unified in the rescue effort and were placed in the custody of the A.N.N.A. Shelter in Erie where they were immediately evaluated and found by veterinarians to have varying degrees of affliction.

The complaint notes that the dogs had multiple injuries associated with abuse and neglect.

Agnes, Beauty, Bridie (located in the birdcage), Clyde, Cringle, Mandy (Molly), Noel, Sammy, Sophia, and Wonky were the ten most severely abused dogs and were in critical condition.

Candy Cassie, Charlie, Emmie, Levi, Lucy, Maizie, Margo, Max, Merry, Odie, Olga, Ollie, Oscar, Penny (Susie), Sara, Tara, Tink, Trixie, Troy, Trudy, Vincent, Walter, and Zeke were in bad condition from severe neglect, however, they were not starved to the point of emaciation as the first ten listed were.

Finally, Beau, Camille, Chip, Harold, Lacie, Lassie, Lou, Mandi, Marley, Marv, Minnie, Tatum, Theo, and Wiggles suffered general abuse and neglect.

According to the complaint, the conditions suffered by the dogs included varying degrees of emaciation, parasitic infestation, both externally in the form and severe fleas and earmites and internally in the form of intestinal parasites such as tapeworms, cherry eye, green ocular discharge, cataracts, and other severe eye issues. Multiple dogs were also missing hair and had patches missing from their bodies as well as long toenails. Moderate to severe dental disease was present in many of the dogs. Some of the dogs had torn ears, punctured ears, and one was missing an ear. There were also a number of dogs with missing digits and other issues, such as one with a missing limb. Many of the dogs had serious internal infections such as Pyometra (infected cysts in the uterus) and some had Brucellosis (a K-9 STD), and corresponding pus and bloody discharge.

The complaint also notes many of the female dogs were pregnant, but miscarried, often later in their pregnancies, as a result of the infection issues internally as well as their general condition. Dogs that did give birth, the pups were often stillborn or had birth defects such as cleft palate. Multiple dogs had behavioral issues as a result of the poor living conditions and trauma to which they were subjected.

According to the complaint, two of the dogs, Agnes and Chip, had to be euthanized. Three other dogs are still unadoptable due to behavioral symptoms. Finally, one other dog, Marv, who visually appeared fairly healthy, died within days of rescue.

Based on the investigation, Ferguson and Lopez were arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 11.


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