SC judge orders woman to give up dogs on Belvedere property

Preston Sparks/Staff
Barnes

BELVEDERE – A woman who owned dogs that police say mauled a 2-year-old Augusta boy over the weekend was sentenced today 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 in monthly installments 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 adults and four puppies – were picked up last week by Aiken County animal control officials because of continued neighbor complaints of barking and foul odors coming from the back yard, the judge said.

Ms. Barnes’ citations dated back to June 22 following a report that some of her dogs had gotten 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 Ms. Barnes had faced citations involving the dogs, having been told in December to no longer have dogs at the home.

As part of his ruling today, Judge Edmonds again told Ms. Barnes that she is to have no more dogs at the Audubon Circle home. He also 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 out or returned to Ms. Barnes only if she finds another 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, and that the entire episode has been upsetting.

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 somehow got over a fence and into the yard where he was attacked by four dogs. On Tuesday, Richmond County sheriff’s investigators arrested his mother on child cruelty charges for not monitoring his activity. 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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