Owner guilty of violations involving dogs

Preston Sparks/Staff
Shirley Barnes: Animal rescue operator was ordered not to keep dogs at house in Belvedere after being found guilty of eight inoculation violations and an animal nuisance complaint.

BELVEDERE --- A woman who owned dogs that police say mauled a 2-year-old Augusta boy last weekend was sentenced Tuesday in a South Carolina courtroom on unrelated citations involving other dogs.

Magistrate Judge Roger Edmonds ordered Shirley Barnes to serve 270 hours of community service and repay more than $1,800 in animal control boarding costs and other fees.

"It's come to an end," the judge told Ms. Barnes, who was found guilty of eight inoculation violations and one animal nuisance charge involving two dozen dogs at a home on Audubon Circle in Belvedere. "You've had way too many dogs at your property."

The dogs -- 20 that were grown and four puppies -- were picked up last week by Aiken County animal control officials because of neighbor complaints about barking and foul odors, the judge said.

Ms. Barnes' citations dated to June 22, when it was reported that some of her dogs got loose in the neighborhood.

Judge Edmonds said the dogs were part of an animal rescue operation Ms. Barnes runs called Hearts for Animals. He said it wasn't the first time she had faced citations, and she was told in December to no longer keep dogs at the home.

On Tuesday, Judge Edmonds again told Ms. Barnes that she is to have no more dogs at the Audubon Circle home. He agreed to allow 10 of the 24 dogs seized to be turned over to a boarding home in Edgefield, where they can either be adopted or returned to Ms. Barnes if she finds a suitable location. The other dogs will remain at animal control.

"Everybody who knows me knows those dogs wouldn't harm anybody," Ms. Barnes said. She said she has done everything she could to keep the dogs and the community safe.

Ms. Barnes said the dogs at animal control would be available for adoption and she pleaded for the public to respond.

The weekend attack in Augusta at a home on Belair Road left Damien Chavous in critical condition. Authorities say the child got over a fence and into the yard, where he was mauled by four dogs. On Tuesday, Richmond County sheriff's investigators arrested his mother on child cruelty charges.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.