By Cass Rains Staff Writer
A former Woods County animal rescue center operator was found guilty of a single misdemeanor during a non-jury trial Monday.
Elizabeth A. Miller, 38, of Oklahoma City, was found guilty of a misdemeanor count of torture of animals, according to online court documents. Miller was fined $500 and was given a one-year suspended sentence.
Miller initially had been charged with six felony counts of cruelty to animals after her Waggin’ Tails Rescue Center was raided Dec. 17, 2005, by officers from the Woods County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Humane Society representatives.
When authorities arrived, they allegedly found two puppies dead and another that died en route to the veterinarian. Fifty-nine dogs were being kept in four open stock trailers at the center, and most were diseased and suffered from worms and lice, according to authorities.
The remaining 57 animals were taken to triage facilities in Enid and distributed to five shelters across the state that volunteered to keep the dogs throughout the trial.
Woods County Assistant District Attorney Brian Mitchell said part of Judge Ray Dean Linder’s sentence entailed Miller release claims to the animals rescued so they could be adopted.
“I’m happy to see a conviction in the case,” Mitchell said.
He said he was “absolutely” pleased the judge ordered the rescued dogs not be returned to Miller.
The animals left in the care of Enid Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been placed in foster homes.
Rusty was one of 11 dogs taken to Enid SPCA from the Waggin’ Tails Rescue Center in Avard. The Irish setter has stayed with a foster family pending the outcome of Miller’s trail.
Peggy Vance, who has cared for the animal since December 2005, said the dog has made marked improvements during his stay with her.
“He’s more outgoing, much more than when I got him,” she said. “He’s not aggressive in anyway.”
Following his rescue, the dog was malnourished and his bones could be seen through his long coat.
Vance said during his stay with her, Rusty has gained between 25 and 30 pounds.