CUMBERLAND — A Ridgeley, W. Va., woman was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to 10 animal cruelty charges in connection with an illegal puppy mill operation at 617 Maryland Avenue.
Pepper Taylor, 42, pleaded guilty before Judge H. Jack Price in a plea agreement between Assistant State's Attorney Linda Thomas and Cumberland defense attorney G.V. McKinley. The plea included dismissal of more than 140 animal cruelty charges.
Taylor was sentenced to 90 days in jail for each of the 10 counts, totaling about 2 1/2 years of jail time the judge suspended.
Judge Price also ordered Taylor to make restitution of $4,324.24 to Animal Control and for service rendered by local veterinarians for more than about 35 dogs that were taken out of the feces-filled residence and a backyard shed on June 16-17.
The judge also ordered that Taylor relinquish all rights, interest and control in connection with the rescue of the dogs who were suffering from medical conditions at that time.
Taylor, identified as the owner of the property at 617 Maryland Avenue, cannot own an animal of any kind -- including a goldfish -- in the state of Maryland.
Additionally, Taylor was placed on three years of unsupervised probation.
Price said he would have no problem in placing Taylor in jail if she were to violate any condition of her probation.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Price said, "Miss Taylor, this may not seem a big deal to you. But it's a damned big deal."
Thomas said disposition of the case now allows the seized dogs to be adopted from the Animal Shelter.