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Atwood Couple Bound Over to Grand Jury on Over 300 Animal Abuse Charges

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HUNTINGDON — At the request of Paris Attorney Bruce Griffey, who is representing the Animal Rescue Corps in the case against the Atwood couple charged with over 300 counts of animal cruelty, Carroll County Judge Larry Logan ordered the defendants post a bond in the amount of $391,994.

The case also was bound over to the Carroll County Grand Jury during the preliminary hearing.

The bond hearing was held separately from the preliminary hearing earlier this month. After hearing evidence presented by Griffey, Judge Logan ordered the bond and further ordered that if the defendants fail to post it, the animals involved in the case will be forfeited and Animal Rescue Corps will be able to move forward in adopting them out to permanent homes.

Defendants in the case are Tara Neutzler and Donald Schoenthal, who are charged with some 300 counts of animal cruelty, aggravated cruelty and two counts of child abuse, neglect and endangerment.

The charges are the result of the “Noah’s Ark” animal rescue at Atwood in April of this year, which was coordinated by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington-based Animal Rescue Corps. The animals were found in dire conditions, with several found dead and in cages with live animals. The living animals found were ailing. The animals found included domesticated pets as well as farm animals and exotic animals. A dead zebra was among those animals which were found dead at the Atwood home.

While waiting for the preliminary hearing to finally be held, the Animal Rescue Corps has been financially suffering while caring for the animals, including food, shelter, veterinary care and other expenses for the 150 animals which were rescued.

Griffey told WENK/WTPR that because of that situation, he agreed to represent the non-profit organization pro bono (for free) and to secure the bond to ensure that the group’s expenses are covered by the defendants.

Griffey said, “The bond was a critical issue not only due to the fact that Animal Rescue Corps, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals, has been financial struggling as a result of this rescue mission, but also inasmuch as these poor animals who were forced to endure torturous conditions deserve to live out the remainder of their lives in a loving home where they will be properly cared for and will be lavished with love.”

At the preliminary hearing, Judge Larry Logan heard testimony from Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Adams, who testified that he was told about the animals by a concerned citizen.  The concerned citizen reported to the Sheriff’s Office that “there was a dead cat in a bag outside the garage” at the defendants’ home.

According to the testimony of Deputy Adams, the concerned citizen also reported to Adams about “a dead duck in a cage” on Defendants’ property and “next to a barn” on Defendants’ property “there was a purple tote with liquified bunnies in it.”  There was also testimony about a dead zebra on Defendants’ property. After hearing testimony from Deputy Adams and a representative of Animal Rescue Corps and receiving in evidence reports prepared by two veterinarians regarding the condition of the animals seized, Judge Logan found the circumstances “deplorable” and bound the charges of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect over to the Carroll County Grand Jury.

Inasmuch as the District Attorney’s office did not submit any proof regarding the children involved in the case, the charges of child abuse/neglect/endangerment were dismissed.  Following the preliminary hearing on the criminal charges, a separate hearing was held on the issue of a bond in favor of Animal Rescue Corps.

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