August 20, 2013
After denying wrongdoing and calling himself a scapegoat, a former Memphis Animal Shelter employee was sentenced Monday to four years in prison. Billy D. Stewart was convicted on five counts of animal cruelty for choking dogs into unconsciousness by tightening the noose at the end of a catch pole, WREG News reported August 19.
Stewart, charged with four counts and one misdemeanor count of animal abuse at the Memphis shelter, denies any wrongdoing. An undercover officer saw Stewart choke five dogs instead of humanely euthanizing them. He would use the catch pole to contain the dogs and twist the end until the dog died from strangulation.
Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong announced at the time of indictment that the officer had spent three months working undercover. Numerous complaints from the public brought against the shelter since it opened in November triggered the investigation.
Stewart, along with two other Memphis Animal Shelter workers were indicted. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton said in an interview with WREG News
“these acts are not up for interpretation as to whether or not they constitute animal cruelty. The examples are plain concise and direct, easy enough for a 2nd grader to know that somebody ought to get in trouble.”
Judge Paula Skahan sentenced Stewart individually for each count of animal cruelty
Count 1- 2 years of which he must serve at least at 30%
Count 2- 2 years of which he must serve at least30% consecutively
Count 3- 2 years of which he must serve at least 30% concurrently
Count 4- 11 months 29 days of which he must serve at least concurrently
Count 5- 2 years of which he must serve at least at 30% concurrently
Stewart will have to serve four years in prison, without the possibility of probation. His defense is appealing.