Franklinton hog farmer pleads guilty, fined for neglecting animals

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FRANKLINTON, LA – On April 13th, 2019, the Humane Society of Louisiana (HSLA) received a complaint involving the suspected neglect of more than a dozen pigs kept in a holding pen off of Wilkie Road and Mt. Pisgah in Washington parish.

William Barse, a volunteer humane investigator for HSLA and Director of Doggone Express (a humane organization which trains inmates to be canine obedience trainers) responded to the call. He discovered multiple animals housed in poor conditions at two neighboring sites.

In a pen off of Wilkie Road and Mt. Pisgah, 11 underweight hogs were found without food or water; four additional animals were found in a similar condition at 39747 Mt. Pisgah. Mr. Barse provided feed and water for the pigs at both sites. He also fixed a broken water pipe at the first location, making it possible for the pigs access to water at all times.

Barse contacted deputies with the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department. “The deputies were kind enough to continue feeding the animals out of their own pockets, until the case was resolved,” says Jeff Dorson, the Humane Society of Louisiana’s Executive Director.

A few days later, the deputies located Mr. Jose Herrera, the owner of the animals. He maintained that he had arranged for an acquaintance to care for the suffering hogs during his absence. Detective Demi Rice of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department issued Mr. Herrera a misdemeanor summons for cruelty to animals. She also required him to improve living conditions for the hogs and to provide them with higher quality feed, which he did. 

On February 6, Mr. Herrera pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges, in exchange for having records expunged if the terms of probation are met and fines paid on time. Judge Gardner ordered Mr. Herrera to pay a $50 fine and court costs, which are usually about $200. Mr. Herrera reported that he subsequently sold most of his pigs and only has a few left in his possession. 

“It is sadly not uncommon for penalties to be minimal for first offenders or those involving misdemeanor charges of animal abuse,” says Jeff Dorson. “While we wish Judge Gardner would have levied a higher fine in this matter, we are still encouraged when local law enforcement takes a case seriously. I am glad that we were able to work together to relieve the pigs of their suffering and to intervene before any of the animals perished from neglect,” Dorson concluded. 

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