KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two people are facing a multitude of charges including seven counts of animal cruelty after being found with a stolen U-Haul in Knoxville with seven cats kept in the back with no open air or open ventilation, according to an arrest report.
Tara Bowman and Shawn Martin face seven counts of animal cruelty, possession of methamphetamine, possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia, simple possession and theft of property of $2,500 but less than $10,000.
According to the arrest report, the U-Haul was parked in the 2800 block of East Fifth Avenue which was described as a known, high-drug, high-crime area. Officers saw that the truck had been listed as stolen, and a traffic stop was conducted. Both Martin and Bowman were taken into custody and following a search, officers found drug paraphernalia, marijuana, and methamphetamine along with other drug-related items.
Bowman told the officers she had rented the U-Haul in September and had been sleeping in it for around three weeks. She opened the back up for the officers and a small kitten fell out of the back of the fully-loaded truck. Six other cats were also found in the back of the truck, the officers say three kittens were loose with a clutter of large and heavy items with trash while the others were caged up.
The arrest report stated that the animals could have been crushed at any time with all the heavy items in the truck — it also said the animals were believed to be in the truck for the time period that Bowman had the truck.
As officers were extracting the cats, they began sweating profusely due to the immense heat in the back of the truck with no open air or open ventilation. The report states that the two intentionally and knowingly transported the seven cats in a cruel manner. Police say the cats were taken to Young-Williams Animal Center for care.