Father, daughter found guilty of animal cruelty

Published 10:26 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A judge in Southampton General District Court found two county residents guilty of cruelty to animals on Tuesday.

Stephanie Battle and Calvin Artis, both of the 4000 block of Hicks Ford Road, were brought before Judge Parker Councill in the case, which dates to March 6.

Giving testimony against the defendants were Laura R. Brown and Daphna Nachminovitch, both of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Brown, who filed the complaints, is an animal sheltering and care specialist. Nachminovitch is senior vice president of cruelty investigations.

As Nachminovitch had previously told The Tidewater News, she and Brown were traveling Route 58 eastbound on the aforementioned date returning from a trip to North Carolina, when they saw a dog wandering the highway. Hoping the animal lived nearby and could be returned to its owner, they were able to secure the dog in their vehicle and started their search on Hicks Ford Road.

Arriving at the Artis residence, they met Shirley Battle, who was not charged, and her daughter, Stephanie, and they confirmed the dog’s mother, “Peaches,” was in the backyard. Calvin Artis showed up and, with Stephanie, led Brown and Nachminovitch outside.

There they found the 5-year-old dog chained to a makeshift dog house. On closer examination, Nachminovitch discovered not only what they called a strong smell of infection, but that the Peaches’ collar was embedded in her neck. The wound was later measured at 1-1/2 inches deep.

In addition, there was a reported lack of food, water and even attention. Nachminovitch had said she based her observations on several years of experience in animal cruelty cases.

She and Brown were told by the father and daughter that they knew of the injury, but didn’t seem at all surprised by what was found that day. The animal was given to the women’s care without protest. During the examination at the shelter in Norfolk, it was determined that Peaches had to be euthanized. The infection was too far along to save her.

Battle pleaded guilty “right away,” Brown said. Judge Council sentenced her to 12 months in jail with 9 suspended, and she’s to serve the three months on weekends.

Artis, who pleaded not guilty, “told the same story: that he claimed to have fed the dog,” she said. “He put the chain on the dog and fastened the wire on the collar. He knew the wire was filing into her neck.”

He received 12 months in jail with six suspended.

Both defendants were given two years probation, which began at sentencing and, Brown added, the judge imposed a lifetime ban from either of them ever owning animals again.

“It was a very good day,” Brown told the newspaper afterward. “The judge saw this was a very clear-cut case. I could tell he was disturbed by the photos and video. I’m really glad some measure of justice was served.”