Woman in court today over dog issues

Preston Sparks/Staff
Shirley Barnes

A woman who was caring for dogs that police say mauled a 2-year-old Augusta boy over the weekend will be in a Belvedere courtroom today involving some other dogs she looked after at a Belvedere residence.

Magistrate Judge Roger Edmonds said Shirley Barnes will go before his court at 2 p.m. today in a case to determine whether 24 dogs seized Thursday from a home on Audubon Circle should be returned to Ms. Barnes. Judge Edmonds said the dogs were part of a refuge group Ms. Barnes runs called Hearts for Animals.

“She was doing this with people living on both sides of her and a Methodist church behind her…They had 24 we had to pick up because they were barking and yelping all day and all night,” he said, adding that the odor from the back yard also was causing a nuisance in violation of a county ordinance.

Judge Edmonds said Ms. Barnes has some past cases of inoculation violations that date back to June involving dogs at the Belvedere site. He said her son, Richard, had been cited at the Belvedere property on four counts of an animal nuisance violation, but that he didn’t appear in court last week, prompting officials to pick him and the animals up Thursday afternoon.

The weekend attack in Augusta at a home on Belair Road left Damien Chavous in critical condition. Authorities say the child somehow got over a fence and into the yard where he was attacked by four dogs. Family members have said the child was playing unattended for about 10 minutes on his family’s deck before they noticed he was in the other yard.

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