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Barnesville couple charged in ‘˜disgusting’ animal cruelty case

By Will Davis Monroe County Reporter A Barnesville couple faces animal cruelty charges after authorities found 17 dogs, a dead cat and five cockatoos crammed into the minivan in which they lived during an I-75 traffic stop. Sgt. Chad Beck pulled over a 1999 Honda Odyssey on I-75 around 11:34 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 for a traffic violation. An incident report said that Beck was ‘disgusted’ by what he found inside. He discovered the animals in the back where seats had been removed, with feces littering the entire van. Here’s what else the report said: There was no food or water for the animals, and the dead cat was found inside a crate. The driver, Billy Eugene Boyt, 49, of Barnesville, told Beck that he was an out-of-work forester, and he and his wife had fallen on hard times and were both addicted to methadone. He said he only owned one of the dogs, a bulldog covered in sores, and his wife took care of the rest. Boyt and his wife Lori Anne Boyt, 48, of Barnesville, both said the one-year-old cat had just died the previous night. But Beck said it appeared to have been dead longer than that. While Mr. Boyt showed remorse and said he was sorry about the animals, Mrs. Boyt became agitated and said she bought them a 13 lb. bag of food every Monday at Dollar General. When Beck noted that wasn’t enough to feed all 17 dogs, she insisted she takes extra care of her animals. ’Some of them are just old,’ said Mrs. Boyt.  While the Boyts were arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, a tow truck took the van to Monroe County Animal Control to unload the animals. Animal control officer Becky Merritt said she was infuriated by the deplorable condition of the animals. ’I was just shocked,’ said Merritt. ‘It was disgusting. One of the worst things I’ve seen in a long time as far as animals.’ After inspecting the animals, veterinarian Dr. Kevin Smith said they should not be returned to their owners.  As Merritt and other officers tried to move the dogs to the animal control kennel, three of the 17 got loose. Two were recovered but one is still loose, but hanging out at the shelter. Merritt said she found a home for the birds and all but five of the dogs have been placed in homes. Mr. Boyt was charged with suspended registration, driving while license suspended, no proof of insurance, cruelty to animals and aggravated cruelty to animals. Mrs. Boyt was charged with cruelty to animals, aggravated cruelty to animals and she was wanted by another agency.  While acknowledging the couple is having a hard time, Merritt said such cruelty to animals can’t be overlooked. ’You can’t let that slide,’ said Merritt. ‘They should’ve reached out for help.’

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