A former volunteer at a Macon animal rescue group was charged Tuesday with 17 counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
Deborah Lynne Scott, 52, has been in the Bibb County jail since Sunday, when she was arrested on a second-degree burglary charge from her time at Macon Purrs N Paws. The animal cruelty charges are all felonies, said sheriff’s Lt. Sean DeFoe.
Macon Purrs N Paws representatives said they recently learned that Scott was keeping multiple animals at an abandoned house with no running water or electricity, but they didn’t know where the house was located.
When Scott was jailed on the burglary charge, she refused to reveal the animals’ location, leading Macon Purrs volunteers to use Facebook pleas and neighborhood fliers to try to track the animals down with help from the sheriff’s office, said Anne Brennaman, founder of the group.
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But that break didn’t come until Tuesday afternoon, and the animals -- which had been inside a house with no air conditioning -- had been without food and water since at least Sunday morning.
“Macon Purrs N Paws stopped a man and asked (him) if he recognized a picture of her,” Brennaman said Tuesday. “He led (the volunteers) to a house (on Dewey Street) ... where (the animals) were found.”
Fifteen cats and one dog were inside, alive but in bad shape. One cat was already dead, she said.
“We had to put on masks and gloves to go in and get the animals,” she said. “The smell, it was horrendous. We were all covered in fleas. ... (The animals) all were weak and dehydrated. ... The cats have scabs from all the flea bites. It was awful.”
The cats found in the house were being kept in small carriers, with little room to move and no way to get out to use a litter box. Scott, who is listed as having an address on Schley Street off Pio Nono Avenue, was a volunteer for Purrs N Paws for about two years, Brennaman said.
All of Purrs’ volunteers are screened, and Brennaman said nothing initially stood out as a potential problem when Scott applied.
After the first year and a half, “we realized something was wrong,” she said. “She changed a lot. That’s about the only way I know to put it.”
As for the animals rescued Tuesday, animal advocacy group Central Georgia CARES is donating up to $1,000 toward veterinary costs, said CARES spokeswoman Patti Jones. Various veterinarians did initial assessments on the animals Tuesday afternoon.
Scott’s bond on the burglary charge is $5,700, and there is no bond set for the animal cruelty charges, DeFoe said. Scott is expected for a Magistrate Court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
To contact writer Andy M. Drury, call 744-4477.