Family fights to prosecute woman accused of neglecting rescued a - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Family fights to prosecute woman accused of neglecting rescued animals

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FAYETTE COUNTY, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A family that runs an animal rescue organization in Fayette County returned home from a trip to find one of their animals dead. They say the woman hired and trained to care for the animals cruelly neglected them, resulting in the death of one of their dogs.

Shannon Whitfield and her family's animal rescue shelter is called Butch's Place Animal Rescue. They recently moved to Fayette County from Blount County, Alabama.

"We spend a lot of time caring for them. It's a big job but a real passion of ours," said RJ Whitfield.

The Whitfield family would do anything for their 37 dogs. That is why they hired and trained a woman named Brittany Hargroves to care for their animals while they were out of town. They found her on Craigslist.

"She worked hard when she was training. She was anxious to learn a skill that would help her earn a living to raise her three young children," said Shannon.

When they got home from a three week vacation, the Whitfield family found their 3-year-old terrier, Buttercup, dead inside a crate.

But Buttercup was not the only victim. Shannon says all of the animals suffered, their property was trashed, and Hargroves had her three children, as well as her boyfriend, living on their property without permission.

"There was no water in any receptacle on the entire property," said Shannon. "Not for the horses, not for Hargroves' animals she brought onto the property, not for our indoor and outdoor dogs."

Hargroves was arrested and is charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a class E felony. She is also facing 37 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, which are class A misdemeanors.

The Millington woman told police she did not realize Buttercup had died. She also said Buttercup was very aggressive toward her.

Whitfield has not been able to get charges filed against Hargroves' boyfriend, Chris Tichenor, even though he admits to being on the property despite being told he should not be there.

District Attorney Mark Davidson said it will be up to a judge to decide whether Hargroves will get diversion. Meanwhile, Shannon hopes that does not happen.

Brittany Hargroves is due back in court on November 18 to face a judge for the third time. Hargroves declined to comment pending her court appearance.

To learn more about the case, as well as the Whitfield's animal rescue operation, click here: https://www.facebook.com/Butchsplaceanimalrescue

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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