Guilty Plea; No Jail for Purple Hearted Puppies Owners

Guilty Plea; No Jail for Purple Hearted Puppies Owners

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Sharon and Roberta Dueitt leave court after pleading guilty to felony animal cruelty. Sharon and Roberta Dueitt leave court after pleading guilty to felony animal cruelty.
BAY MINETTE, Alabama -

Authorities discovered hundreds of animals at The Purple Hearted Puppies rescue in Summerdale malnourished, dead or dying January 26th, 2012. Some of the dogs had resorted to cannibalizing other animals just to stay alive.

The mother and daughter responsible for the abuse and torture were in court Friday to make official a deal they had worked out with prosecutors.

Roberta and Sharon Dueitt, the women responsible for the house of horrors that was Purple Hearted Puppies rescue, will not go to jail.

"They were getting in there trying to rescue dogs and it just got to be too big and it got over their heads," says defense attorney Thomas Pilcher. "I don't know what their intent was when they started," says district attorney Hallie Dixon, "we absolutely disagree as to their intentions by the time it was over."

In a deal worked out between the DA's office and the Dueitts, they will pay 100 thousand dollars to the Baldwin County Humane Society, or BARC, be on supervised probation for five years and will not be allowed contact with any animals during that time.

"We thought that when you look at the law and obviously when you meet the Dueitts and take all the facts and how they came about it was a fair situation for everybody involved," says Pilcher.

It's a deal Dixon says is the lesser of two evils. Take your chances in court or a plea agreement that returns thousands of dollars spent to rescue 71 dogs and 46 cats to the humane society so it can continue to operate. "It was an emotional decision. It was struggle. It is a decision to this day people have very conflicting emotions about however at this point they have been convicted of animal cruelty."

15 months ago Deneen Balistere was on the front lines as emaciated dogs and cats were discovered in horrific conditions. "I personally would have been happier if they would have been in jail." For her, there was no justice today. "The only thing I can take away from this is the justice that I'm getting making sure every animal that came out of there gets a good home and never ever knows torture again."

The final chapter of the Purple Hearted Puppies rescue may not be justice for everyone but now there is legal precedent in Alabama. If you starve a dog or cat to death it is considered torture, it is a felony and it is animal cruelty.

The Dueitt's left the courthouse without explaining anything. More than a year later, there are still 4 dogs and 13 cats from their rescue still waiting for permanent homes.

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