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Woman charged with animal cruelty for second time

SNELLVILLE - A woman was arrested Tuesday and charged with animal neglect after authorities said they discovered several animals on her property in "various stages of neglect."

Sylvia Simmons, 59, faces 12 counts of misdemeanor animal neglect after officers with the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Center executed a search warrant at her home in the 2600 block of Hewatt Road.

Officers took custody of 12 cats, 16 dogs and a raccoon they say were living in unsanitary conditions. Because of the risk of rabies, the raccoon was euthanized. The dogs and cats are being housed at the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare Center, reports said.

The case isn't Simmons' first arrest for questionable animal care.

Police found more than 30 malnourished dogs and cats, some of them deceased, in the same Snellville home in April 2006. Several of the animals had resorted to eating their dead counterparts, animal control officers noted at the time.

Simmons pleaded guilty in October 2007 to 28 counts of animal neglect. A Gwinnett Superior Court judge sentenced her to 12 months probation, $2,000 in fines and restitution and 120 hours of community service.

Gwinnett Police Department spokesman David Schiralli said as part of her probation, Simmons was not to care for any animals for five years. He said violation of probation charges are pending.

Simmons is free on $270 surety bonds on each count, records show.

In her defense, friends wrote to the judge that Simmons was a compassionate caretaker who didn't know how to turn down an animal in need, according to court documents.

Schiralli said the investigation is ongoing.

- Staff Writer Josh Green contributed to this report.