Woman gets 2 years' probation in 'worst' animal neglect case

Mary Smith pleaded guilty to 3 counts Friday

INDIANAPOLIS - A woman who was facing 42 years in jail for animal neglect signed a plea agreement Friday.

Mary Smith pleaded guilty to three counts of animal neglect and agreed to serve two years' probation.

The agreement also stipulates that she also can't own animals for two years and she has to undergo mental counseling.

"The important part is she's prevented by the criminal justice system from owning animals for two years," Deputy Prosecutor Chris Kozelichki said. 

Animal Care and Control officers found 42 dirty, malnourished and sick dogs locked in Smith's home last summer.

"It was one of the worst cases we've seen, and obviously the worst that I've seen," said Marcus Brown, with Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. "You had maggots, lots of dog feces, urine, dead animals inside the residence, trash, cobwebs, things the average person would be sick from."  

When officers entered the home, they found carcasses of seven dogs. The living animals survived by eating the corpses of the dead dogs and drinking each other's urine.

The surviving dogs have all been adopted, but many had infections and flea infestations when officers rescued them from Smith's home.

Kozelichki said the plea deal was offered because taking the case to trial would have been risky.

"Our office does take animal cruelty very seriously and animal neglect, but quite frankly I don't think we'd expect to see any jail time if we were to take it to trial," Kozelichki said. "She simply doesn't have a record in this case, and we weren't willing to roll the dice and go to trial."

Smith is also facing more than $200,000 in civil fines for care and treatment violations, and that will be sorted out on Monday.

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