Husband, wife sentenced for animal neglect



LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Lawrenceville couple will serve five years probation and undergo mental health evaluations for keeping 13 malnourished dogs and cats in rancid conditions at their home, a Gwinnett County judge ruled last month.

Facing up to five years in prison, Justin and Buffy Sims pleaded guilty to five counts of animal cruelty Sept. 1 in Gwinnett State Court.

According to court documents, the couple will serve five years probation and can have no contact with animals. Judge Gene Cantrell also ordered that they undergo mental health evaluations.

In exchange for the negotiated plea, prosecutors dropped an additional eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty the Sims each faced.

The situation came to light when a neighbor called Lawrenceville police in August to report emaciated dogs she'd heard fighting over food at the Sims' home on Forest Place.

In the backyard, officers noted a pit bull and several smaller dogs in "skeletal" condition, with no apparent food or suitable water. Animal Control removed nine dogs from the back yard.

Inside the home, officers noted the floors were smeared with feces and urine, and dotted with cockroaches and flies.

Officers confiscated a Boston terrier, a small dog with infected lesions on its back, two cats and a caged Guinea pig, police said at the time.

Animal Control officers transported all the animals for veterinary care and treatment, as police arrested the couple.