Police: Two plead guilty to animal cruelty charges

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A Morganton man and woman arrested for animal cruelty had their first court appearance Wednesday.

Andrew Julian Moore and Stephanie Michelle McElhany were arrested on 9 counts each for animal cruelty.

The duo pled guilty to the charges and relinquished all rights to the animals and reptiles, according to Burke County Sheriff's Office.

A total of 34 animals and 36 reptiles were seized from their home, including 6 horses, 6 donkeys, 19 dogs, 1 rat, 1 ferret, 1 cat and 36 snakes.

On Friday, Burke County Animal Control deputies acquired search warrants for the home on the 5000 block of Gouge Avenue referencing conditions of animal cruelty.

Animal Control began monitoring the situation May 2013. Conditions worsened in the summer months of 2015, according to animal control. Over the past two months, animal control says living conditions and the health of the animals severely declined.

Charges included: 45 days suspended, 5 years supervised probation with the condition they cannot own or live in a residence with animals for the duration of the probation, 100 hours community service, pay fines and court costs.   

Placement of the animals and reptiles will be handled by the Humane Society.