Siblings plead not guilty to animal cruelty

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NATCHEZ — Siblings accused of tying a dog to a pipe and leaving it in the summer heat with no food, water or shelter pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Adams County Justice Court.

Robert Lewis, 29, and Natasha Lewis Short, 30, both of 747 Cedar Lane, were booked into the Adams County Jail Aug. 10 on a charge of animal cruelty.

After the defendants made their initial plea, Judge Patricia Dunmore appointed an attorney to defend them because a conviction has the possibility of up to six months jail time.

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At the time of Lewis and Short’s arrest, Adams County Sheriff’s Office Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Karren Ewing said the rope had cut into the dog’s neck, he had dug a hole in the ground seeking shade and he was showing signs of heat stroke.

Ewing was able to save the dog by cooling it in a kiddie pool, but it ultimately spent 10 days at a veterinarian’s office before being put into a dog foster rotation with the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society.

After the court appearance Tuesday, Ewing said she wanted to make sure the matter went to trial.

“With letting people plead guilty and pay their fines, it doesn’t seem to be stopping (animal cruelty and neglect),” she said. “Somewhere we have to stop and say, ‘You are going to be accountable for what you have allowed to happen to your pet.”

At the Tuesday court appearance, Lewis and Short signed a release form relinquishing any rights they had to the dog, Ewing said, which allows the dog to be eligible for adoption without having to wait for the trial to conclude.

No trial date has been set for the matter.