Cat advocates angered after NC woman convicted of animal cruelty receives supervised probation

Cat advocates are angered after a North Carolina woman convicted of animal cruelty was given a sentence of three years supervised probation.

Sentenced to probation for animal cruelty

At her court appearance January 11, Barbara Hart received probation along with the judge ordering she couldn’t have contact with animals of any kind, even if she lives with someone who has animals.

On May 11, 2017, five dogs were seized and from the Salisbury property where Hart was living. Four dead cats were also removed from the home. The veterinarian who examined the decomposed cats reported the cats had no fatty tissue or muscles and had literally starved to death.

Anyone who attended court is encouraged to add information in the comment section.

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Cat advocates angered after NC woman convicted of animal cruelty receives supervised probation — 14 Comments

  1. I have never met Ms. Hart & have no involvement in this case, but I think it’s more complicated than it seems & may have broader implications. Her sentence does fall within the guidelines of NC’s structured sentencing system. More noteworthy is the fact that only a few years ago she was a major figure in animal welfare in her part of the state. In fact, it was Ms. Hart who obtained funding for a big new cat wing to be built at her county animal shelter. To me the real question is what happened to bring her to her present state? And what lessons does this hold for other rescuers?

    • More to the point of what most readers are thinking about — the sentence. Google NC structured sentencing system or structured sentencing grid & you will see how it is a formula that gets applied with some but not much flexibility. Most instances of animal cruelty are misdemeanors & are plugged into the formula as such. The defendant’s criminal history is relevant — if Ms. Hart had no criminal record, she becomes Level 1 for sentencing purposes and is punished accordingly. For example, jail time is not available for a Level 1 misdemeanor offender. Animal advocates growling in displeasure (couldn’t resist that!) will be interested to know that supervised probation is no picnic & 3 years is rather long duration.

      • I heard last year that it’s not that the courts don’t want to hand down a harsher punishment it’s that the law doesn’t allow it. What is the fee per probation visit in NC? Isn’t there a charge or is that only if restitution is ordered?

  2. Haven’t done any such cases for several years, but it was about $35/month at that time. Each visit to probation office involves drug testing, & probation officer can show up at your house at any time. Also you can’t travel any significant distance without probation officer’s permission. I find the “no contact with animals whatsoever” part disturbing — not sure it goes beneath the surface to deal with whatever really went on here.

      • Whoa! No need to get nasty– I didn’t do the crime. Let’s not get in a cat fight — I need to explain. I thought that it was unrealistic to order her to have no contact whatsoever with animals, even if she lived with someone who had some — how would that be managed or enforced? They don’t have ankle bracelets to monitor that. It seemed a superficial solution to order that without requiring mental health evaluation & treatment as well.

        • Did not get nasty, I did not do personal attacks on you, did not call you names or curse you, in fact you are insulting me by using the term “cat fight”. That term is used by sexist men to describe women who fight over issues the men believe are trivial. And it is not cute or funny if you are making a joke in this situation where animals were murdered. I simply misunderstood your point and yes I said it for shock value because I want people to remember while they are making good and provoking points about the inefficiency and lip service of these laws in that state that these living, breathing, feeling creatures that can feel terror and pain paid the price. Until the lawmakers get that and actually care it is a waste of time except knowing that many of us see that and agree with that. The law that needs to be changed which would change everything is recognizing that animals are sentient creatures and not property.

  3. Why do you find the order that she have no contact with animals disturbing? I find it appropriate. Seeing how she starved animals until their actual death. I do understand the part about structured sentencing.

    • See my reply above. I should have said that by itself i thought it would be unenforceable & ineffective & would show that the judge hadn’t really thought the case through. It needed to be in the context of mental health treatment.

  4. Poor baby has to pay money for her sentence, meanwhile defenceless animals who died an agonizing, long, death while in her care, even if she had to live under a bridge I could care less. Be better if the judge put her in a cage and let her starve.

  5. Whoa! No need to get nasty– I didn’t do the crime. Let’s not get in a cat fight — I need to explain. I thought that it was unrealistic to order her to have no contact whatsoever with animals, even if she lived with someone who had some — how would that be managed or enforced? They don’t have ankle bracelets to monitor that. It seemed a superficial solution to order that without requiring mental health evaluation & treatment as well.

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