STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. -- A couple in Stevens County will each spend 60 days in jail for animal cruelty.
This comes after a non-profit organization seized more than 40 dogs and cats from their property in May. Rescue leaders said it is one of the worst cases of animal abuse they have ever seen.
The details of the abuse and neglect were hard to hear and see. There were audible gasps and reactions from the crowd in the courtroom at what these dogs and cats went through.
Both Theresa and Thomas Hostetler pleaded guilty to several counts of animal cruelty in the second degree. Thomas also pleaded guilty to one count obstructing a law enforcement officer. Both spoke in court about what happened to the animals on their property. Thomas said the situation spiraled out of control. While Theresa said she loves animals.
"We have never intentionally bred any of the dogs," Thomas said in court.
“I loved all those animals and I would never harm an animal intentionally, that I wanted the best for them and this has been the hardest thing for me,” Theresa said.
Before handing down their sentences the judge said, "Mrs. Hostetler can say she never lifted a hand to hurt animals, but she did very little to lift a hand to help animals."
The judge said he cannot ignore that the couple turned a blind eye to the suffering of these animals and told them this was not a mistake, this was a crime. He sentenced both to spend 60 days in jail, with 304 days suspended for two years.
As part of their sentence, the couple is not allowed to own any animals for two years except for one cat that Theresa said is her service animal. If they are caught with any animals, besides the one cat, in the next two years they will be ordered to serve an additional 304 days in jail. They will also have to undergo a mental health assessment.
In Stevens Co. for the sentencing of Theresa & Thomas Hostetler. Both pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges. These signs line the walkway to the courthouse. pic.twitter.com/LbUODnjvA7— Lindsay Nadrich (@KREMLindsay) October 28, 2017
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