MOUNTAIN CITY-An Ashe County woman was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty last month by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.
Caroline Jessie Miller, 23, was charged by the JCSD on Nov. 15, with nine counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, and six counts of cruelty to animals.
JCSD Chief Deputy Joe Woodard said Miller had listed addresses on Fall Branch Road in Mountain City, TN, and another in Miller’s Creek but had no current addresses listed in Ashe County. In a phone call Wednesday afternoon however, Miller confirmd that she is living in West Jefferson but declined further comment.
BJ Pim, the owner of Happy Tails Pet Supply and Happy Tails Rescue of West Jefferson, said Miller had rented space from her to use for Miller’s West Jefferson pet grooming business, Barking at the Moon Grooming, from June to November of this year.
Dead dogs, cats and a rabbit
According to a Session Court Affidavit filed on Nov. 15, 2015, by JCSD Deputy Patrick McGuinn, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to a call on Fall Branch Road on Nov. 9, after a neighbor had reported “smelling something dead and thought it might be coming from his neighbor’s house.”
The home in question, at 1871 Fall Branch Road in Mountain City, was listed as an address for Miller, Woodard said.
Miller’s neighbors said they’d heard a lot of dogs barking sometime in the past, but told McGuinn “it didn’t seem like there were as many (dogs) as before.” The neighbors told McGuinn that they’d seen Miller visit the home with dog food and water a week before McGuinn was called to investigate.
McGuinn, along with the neighbors, went to the house and found a German Shepherd tied up by the side of the house, a Great Dane tied to the porch and a yellow Lab and Husky-like dog in a kennel.
They also found what appeared to be two dead cats in a cage and two dead dogs in a kennel with two skulls next to them. A dead dog was found behind an outbuilding and a skull was found next to the lab.
“(The neighbor) went around the house and found a rabbit dead in a cage and the remains of a dog in another cage and made Deputy McGuinn aware of the situation so he could observe it as well,” according to the complaint.
At that point, a living dog was seen inside the home and McGuinn and the neighbor entered the house and found a dead poodle behind the home’s front door along with a Husky tied up in the kitchen.
“They could also hear a dog locked in the bathroom,” according to the complaint.
Mountain City Animal Control was dispatched to the scene, and five living dogs found at the property were given to a local animal rescue group while another was taken by animal control officer Garry Phillips.
McGuinn spoke with the property’s landlord, according to the complaint, who told him that he knew Miller had kept dogs at the home but did not know they were still there. The landlord also said Miller had lived at the home with a man and the couple’s young child.
The landlord told deputies that Miller had been in contact with his wife, Joy Johnson, and that Miller had talked about coming to pay some of the rent money she owed the Johnsons.
“On Nov. 14, Deputy McGuinn spoke with Joy Johnson and she stated that earlier in the week Miller had texted her and stated that that she was going to try to get her dogs back and wanted to know which shelter the dogs were at,” according to the complaint. “Mrs. Johnson stated that she did not know where they were at.”
According to JCSO records, Miller was charged on Nov. 15, and posted her $52,000 bond the same day.
Miller confirmed Wednesday that she does have an attorney, and her next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 16.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or on Twitter @AdamROrr.