Fauquier County resident Daniel Sweeny pleaded guilty last week in Fauquier General District Court to charges of animal cruelty and was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $750 for the neglect of more than 80 animals, including horses, dogs, cats and rabbits.
Judge Jonathan Lynn suspended all but 30 days of the sentence. Sweeny remains free on a $5,000 personal bond. All of the charges against Sweeny were misdemeanors.
Sweeny's attorney, Karen Kennedy, said she will file an appeal in Fauquier Circuit Court. According to the Virginia code, an appeal to a higher court nullifies a guilty plea in General District Court.
According to county officials who went to the farm where Sweeny and his family rented a house and barn, the animals were found to be lacking food, water and heat. They included six dogs, 22 cats, 16 rabbits, 17 horses and ponies, a donkey and several fowl. Five of them, a cat and four rabbits, were found dead. Several animals were also found in cages in the house, according to the officials.
According to Kennedy, Sweeny's wife had been ill for a week and had been unable to help care for the animals. Sweeny and his two sons were on the way to the barn to feed and water the animals when Carol Scott, county animal warden, showed up, she said. The dead cat, Kennedy said, did not belong to her client.