Hearing set for Long Beach dog rescuer accused of cruelty
The two Long Beach women accused of felony animal cruelty in Tennessee are scheduled to appear in court Monday for a preliminary hearing, according to court officials.
Bonnie Sheehan and Pamela King-McCracken made headlines Jan. 17 when their U-Haul truck was pulled over by a state trooper near Memphis. The officer discovered more than 100 dogs and one cat inside the truck and minivan that was being towed behind.
Some of the dogs were in cages, while others were loose, the trooper said in an affidavit obtained by The Times. One dog was dead.
Sheehan and her passenger, King-McCracken -- a volunteer with Sheehan's nonprofit rescue organization Hearts for Hounds -- were arrested, jailed and charged with one count each of felony animal cruelty. The women are free on bail, according to media reports.
Sheehan and King-McCracken appeared in court in Fayette County, Tenn., on Jan. 24 and agreed to relinquish custody of the animals, including their own. The preliminary hearing was continued to Feb. 21 and was eventually changed to March 19, court officials said.
The American Humane Assn. has placed the dogs in shelters across the country. At least four of the dogs were taken in by Fayette County Animal Rescue. One dog has since been adopted, according to its website.
The case has shocked Sheehan's admirers, who have struggled to reconcile the scene in Tennessee with her reputation for kindness to animals. Some have raised questions about whether authorities bore some of the blame.
At least one of her volunteers, Jay Williams, has publicly stated that an animal control officer had visited Sheehan twice on Jan. 15 as she and two volunteers were loading dog crates into the U-Haul for the journey to Roanoke, Va., where she planned to move her nonprofit operation. She had also planned an adoption fair that weekend.
Long Beach police had also responded to the facility that same day, according to city officials.
The city launched an independent investigation that will look at the entire incident, including why police officers and an animal control officer did nothing to stop the women from loading the vehicles.
-- Ruben Vives
Photos: Bonnie Sheehan, left, and Pamela A. King-McCracken. Credit: WDBJ7.com