DECATUR — Beth A. Hughes, the woman who ran a Decatur-based spaying and neutering service for dogs and cats and helped out pet owners in need, was fined $500 Wednesday after admitting cruelty to animals in violation of a city ordinance.
Hughes’ case was heard in Macon County Circuit Court, and she admitted the violation in an appearance before Presiding Judge A.G. Webber IV. Amy M. Waks, assistant corporation counsel, represented the city, and the fine imposed was the maximum allowed. Hughes will also have to pay as yet undetermined court costs.
After a brief discussion with the judge, Hughes was permitted to pay the fine and costs at the rate of $50 a month beginning July 30 and continuing until everything is paid off.
Hughes left the courtroom immediately after the proceedings to receive hugs from several female supporters who had sat in the court with her. Hughes, 57, ignored requests for comment from waiting reporters.
The ordinance violation against Hughes was filed May 19 after Macon County Animal Control wardens visited a former home she owns in the 1700 block of East Johns Avenue. Acting on a tip, wardens said they found Hughes had 25 cats and seven dogs housed in unsanitary conditions and without adequate food and water and access to veterinary care.
Hughes is known for the Care Van Pet Program she launched in 2007, which provided pet owners in need with spaying, neutering and rabies shots for their animals. Hughes also sold cut-rate pet food and supplies to help out impoverished owners struggling to care for their dogs and cats.
Some volunteers who had previously worked with Hughes told the Herald & Review in an earlier story that they believed she had taken on the care of too many unwanted or abandoned animals and had become overwhelmed.