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Published: Wednesday, 12/8/2010

B.G. area pair not guilty of cruelty to animals

BOWLING GREEN — A Bowling Green area couple accused of neglecting their pets and farm animals were each found not guilty of 23 counts of animal cruelty Wednesday by a local jury.

The jury of five men and three women acquitted James Southwick, 51, and his wife, Karan, 49, of all counts of animal cruelty during the second and final day of their trial in Bowling Green Municipal Court. They initially faced 34 counts for each of the 34 animals seized from their Haskins Road property during and after a July 24 raid by the Wood County Humane Society, but some charges were dropped.

In testimony, cruelty inspectors said they found a barnyard full of underweight animals with empty food and water bowls. The Southwicks' attorney, Scott Coon, argued that the couple provided good animal care, and that the raid occurred shortly before the animals' feed time.

Andrew Schuman, prosecutor for the humane society, said he found the verdict “perplexing” and is concerned for the animals' welfare if they're returned to the Southwicks. Mr. Coon could not be reached for comment.

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