Sevierville man pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

Sevierville man pleads guilty to animal cruelty charges

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William Allen Hood (source: Sevier County Sheriff's Office) William Allen Hood (source: Sevier County Sheriff's Office)

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A Sevierville man pleaded guilty Thursday to animal cruelty charges after several dead and decomposing cats were found on his property in May.

William Allen Hood was arrested following an investigation by the Sevier County Humane Society and the Sevierville Police Department.

Twenty-six cats were found in Hood's former home at Edgewater Court. Just eight of the animals were alive.

The live cats were treated for dehydration, emaciation, flea infestation and anemia.

With his guilty plea, Hood agreed to serve 30 days in jail, which he began serving immediately after his courtroom appearance.

He will be placed in an in-house rehabilitation facility for 28 days and must attend "AniCare" mental health evaluation and treatment.

"The animals, it's terribly sad, and as a social worker, I have compassion and sadness for the perpetrator as well," said Dr. Elizabeth Strand, the director of veterinary social work at the University of Tennessee.

Strand is also the only "AniCare" counselor in the Knoxville area.

"We want the person that's been convicted of animal cruelty to acknowledge what they have done. Then we also want to build empathy, because that ability to be cruel to an animal stems from a lack of empathy. Then we want to look at childhood history," she said. 

Strand has counseled several convicted animal abusers who were court ordered to undergo treatment.

"I have seen in my personal practice that it does work, but we still have some more work to do," she said.

Next spring, the UT vet school will host "AniCare" training for counselors from across the country.

"A lot of mental health professionals might be like, oh, I could never help somebody who's perpetrated animal cruelty," Strand said.

But she says without treatment, 100 percent of animal hoarders will do it again.

Hood's plea bargain sentence also includes five years supervised probation and 200 hours of community service work. He will be prohibited from owning or being in the presence of animals.

The Humane Society is given authority to enter any place where Hood lives at any time to check on his compliance with the "no animal order." 

He is also ordered to provide the Humane Society with 28 pounds of cat food each month for two years and pay $5,820 in restitution for the treatment and care of the surviving cats.

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