Trial Date Set For Vancleave Animal Cruelty Case

A Feb. 5 trial date has been set for a Vancleave woman charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty.

Neighbors and animal control agents have accused Jeanne Houston, 53, of being a pet dealer who keeps her animals in deplorable conditions on a five-acre farm in Vancleave. Animal control agents said there were dead animal carcasses on Houston's farm.

Jackson County Justice Court Judge James Thornton on Wednesday gave Houston until Nov. 24 to show that she has enough land, veterinarian care and personnel to properly care for all of her dogs, horses, llamas and goats, including 20 undernourished animals. The 20 malnourished animals were confiscated from Houston's farm on Oct. 30.

If Houston cannot meet the requirements, the county's animal shelter will adopt the animals, Thornton said.

"I don't mind working with someone if they show they can provide for the animals,'' Thornton told Houston's attorney.

Houston was arrested Oct. 29 and released on a $2,500 bond. The maximum penalty under each count Houston faces is $1,000 and six months in jail.

Jackson County Animal Shelter Director Bill Richman said Houston had more than 100 animals on her property, and only the animals in the worst shape were confiscated. Eighteen adult horses, adult miniature horses and ponies and two llamas were taken.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)