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Former Petland worker given probation in drowned-rabbit case

December 4, 2009 |  8:09 pm

PetlandAfter initially pleading not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty, former pet-store employee Liz Carlisle -- whose admission on Facebook that she'd drowned two injured rabbits at an Ohio Petland franchise drew the ire of animal lovers across the country and led to the store being closed -- changed her mind last month and instead pleaded guilty to the charges. 

Carlisle, 20, apparently drowned the rabbits after they were both badly injured during a fight with each other.  She later posted a photo, in which she smiled while holding the dead rabbits, on her Facebook page.

Carlisle's attorney, Ron Gatts, suggested that his client was not getting a fair shake, implying that store policy may have played a role in the incident and insisting that Carlisle was in fact "an avid animal lover."  (For its part, Petland was quick to distance itself from Carlisle and her case, noting in a statement that the Akron store "was individually owned and operated by a local franchisee" whose agreement with the company had been terminated in light of the animal-cruelty allegations.  "Petland will in no way, shape or form tolerate any abuse of animals in its care," the statement continued. "We are outraged at this gross violation of Petland's animal care standards.")

Last month, Carlisle abruptly changed her plea to guilty, despite Gatts' inclination to bring the case to trial. "As much as I wanted to try the case, [Carlisle] said, 'I did it,' which I think she has said from the beginning, and she said, 'I just want it to be over with','' the attorney told the Akron Beacon Journal

Although a judge could have sentenced her to up to 180 days in jail, Carlisle received probation.  She'll also have to pay a $250 fine and serve 120 hours of community service, the Beacon Journal reported.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Animal rights activists in Akron, Ohio, protest outside of the Stubbs Justice Center during an August court appearance by Liz Carlisle. Credit: Mike Cardew / Associated Press

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