Humane Society questions arrest in animal cruelty case

Published 9:07 am Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sometimes arresting the right person on animal cruelty charges can be complicated.

That was certainly the case when the Adams County Sheriff’s Office booked Eric Leeron Anderson, 33, 369 Lower Woodville Road, into the Adams County Jail Thursday.

Don Winters, a volunteer with the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, said he signed an affidavit against the man’s wife. But Anderson was the one who was arrested.

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One dog was found dead and another reportedly malnourished at a Lower Woodville Road residence in February. The dead dog supposedly belonged to the woman’s son, who is a minor. Anderson was only occasionally at the residence, Winters said.

“(The dogs) were in (the wife’s) custodial care, and that’s the way we signed the affidavit,” he said.

Adams County Sheriff Ronny Brown said Anderson came to the sheriff’s office Thursday.

“He said, ‘They’re my dogs,’” Brown said. “The guy, as I understood it, heard charges would be filed.”

Anderson then went to justice court, got the affidavit changed, went back to the sheriff’s office and turned himself in, Brown said.

Anderson was released on his own recognizance Thursday.

Justice Court Judge Mary Toles said Friday she changed the affidavit Thursday from Anderson’s wife’s name to Anderson’s name.

“I actually originally thought Anderson was a minor,” Toles said. “When I found out Eric Anderson was an adult, I agreed that if he is the one who takes care of the dog, he is probably the person who needs to be accountable for it.”

Toles said her bailiff pointed out Anderson was an adult.

“It was really finite in my mind at that point that this is an adult person making his own decisions,” Toles said.

Winters said it was his understanding that even if Anderson was the owner, he was not home on a regular basis to care for the dogs, while his wife was.

“The (juvenile’s) mother was in and out of the house, at a point where every day she saw the dogs,” Winters said. “She was the legal custodian because she has a minor son and the dogs were on her property.”

Winters, who signed the affidavit for an arrest, said he was not contacted about the name change on the affidavit.

“How can they change an affidavit and not notify the person who signed it?” Winters said. “We spent three or four weeks making sure the right person was charged before we signed the paperwork.”