Case of more than 100 dogs at home results in cruelty pleas

Donald Smith and Melissa Copen (photo supplied/Van Buren County Sheriff's Office)

PAW PAW, Mich. (AP) — A southwestern Michigan couple pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after authorities removed 108 dogs and several other animals from their rural home.

Donald Smith and his wife Melissa Copen entered pleas Thursday in an agreement with prosecutors in Van Buren County.

WWMT-TV reports they’re expected to serve probation and won’t be allowed to keep animals.

Sheriff’s deputies and animal control officers seized the animals, including six cats and a horse, in June. Authorities have said many of the animals were underweight and had fleas or deformities. The sheriff described living conditions at the property in Lawrence Township as horrendous.

Copen previously denied the animals were poorly cared for. She earlier told WOOD-TV that she and her husband were starting a rescue program but got overwhelmed.

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