Couple charged in animal cruelty

12 deceased animals found in plain view on property

<p class="indent">A Vernon Parish couple is facing charges of animal cruelty after authorities discovered multiple animals deceased in plain view on the couple’s property and in various stages of decay.</p><p class="indent">Steven Ray Jones, 49, and Holly Nicole Dowden, 31, both of Leesville, were charged with one count each of aggravated cruelty to animals on Monday. The investigation began after authorities received a complaint from a concerned citizen regarding the neglect and possible mistreatment of animals at a residence on Wise Burns Road.</p><p class="indent">Sheriff Sam Craft said detectives traveled to the residence and observed a miniature horse laying in the front yard in close proximity to the residence that “was in great distress and appeared to be unresponsive.”</p><p class="indent">A search warrant was then obtained, Craft said, and detectives returned to the residence with a local veterinarian in an attempt to provide medical care for the remaining animals at the property.</p><p class="indent">Ultimately, Vernon Parish Animal Control removed nine dogs from the residence, Craft said, while St. Landry Parish Animal Control removed eight donkeys, six horses, six dogs and one goat from the location. He said there was no dog food or livestock feed found at the scene.</p><p class="indent">An additional 12 animals were found deceased in plain view on the property and were buried.</p><p class="indent">According to Craft, when detectives made contact with Jones he told them that an unknown person, or persons, had been poisoning his animals over an unspecified amount of time. Lab results of blood samples taken from animals at the scene, however, showed no disease or poison.</p><p class="indent">In the medical opinion provided by the veterinarian on site, the cause of death on all the animals appeared to be neglect and malnutrition.</p><p class="indent">Jones and Dowden were both booked into the Vernon Parish Jail with a bond of $10,000.</p>””DOWDEN AND JONES ARRESTED

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