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Alleged puppy mill operators want all seized animals returned for vet exams

By Walter Geiger The operators of an alleged local puppy mill have filed motions seeking to have all animals seized from their property at 900 Johnstonville Road March 13-14 returned here for examinations by their veterinarian. A hearing on the motion is set for Lamar superior court Thursday, May 9. ******************** NOTICE: This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission. ********************* Attorney Johnnie Caldwell Jr. filed the motions on behalf of John David Matthews ,63, and Latitia Adele Matthews, 39. Each faces 43 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of improper disposal of dead animals. David Matthews faces three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals while Latitia Matthews faces two counts of that same offense. In the motions, Caldwell, citing case law, argues for examination of critical evidence. He notes the state alleges ‘certain animals were malnourished or diseased by actions or lack of actions by the defendants’. He also notes the state allegation that certain animals ‘died as a result of lack of care’. Arguing the state had the animals examined and reports prepared for the state agriculture department, sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office, the defendants are ‘entitled to have their own expert to examine the animals to determine their physical condition and causes of death’. The motion asks the court to order the prosecution to make all the seized animals available for inspection and furnish the defense with all photographs of the animals taken at the scene. It also seeks all records detailing the physical conditions of the seized animals and notes the defendants will pay for a veterinarian to examine the animals once they are produced. The defense request places a huge logistical burden on presiding Judge Bill Fears in that all the animals were removed by a rapid response team of the Atlanta Humane Society and then split up among several different rescue groups. Nearly all have been adopted and spent the last two months in caring homes and have likely put on weight and seen considerable improvement in their physical conditions. A total of 44 dogs were seized as were 18 pigs. Nine dead pigs were found on the 75-acre property and roamming puppies were photographed eating the dead pigs. Only one small bag of cat food was found at the scene, investigators said. For updates from Thursday’s hearing, monitor

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