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Local News

PETA calls for jail time in cruelty case

Arraignment thursday

  |     |   Story updated at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, January 18, 2006

An Athens man cited for animal cruelty last July for allegedly keeping 14 malnourished and sick dogs in urine-soaked cages in his Sycamore Drive apartment is scheduled to have his case heard Thursday in Clarke County State Court.

Dave Watkins is charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty, which can be punished with up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000, said Athens-Clarke Assistant General Solicitor Jason Slider. Watkins will be arraigned Thursday before State Court Judge Kent Lawrence.

Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Slider urging him to prosecute Watkins "vigorously" and asked that mandatory psychiatric counseling and jail time be part of his sentence, said Stephanie Bell, a PETA caseworker. In her letter, Bell also asked that the court prohibit Watkins from owning or caring for animals again, if he is convicted.

Slider said Lawrence could bar Watkins from owning dogs again and could order mandatory psychiatric counseling if Watkins is convicted.

Of the 14 dogs Watkins held in his apartment, six were too sick or ill-tempered to be rehabilitated and were euthanized. Five were adopted by families in metro Atlanta and one was adopted permanently by an Oconee County woman.

Two of the dogs reportedly were returned to Watkins by the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter, and he is believed to still be in custody of those two dogs, said officials at the Madison-Oglethorpe Animal Shelter.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 011806