Two Nauvoo residents have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.George Michael Mullinax, 54, and Sharon Mullinax, 55, were arrested Friday on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, …
Two Nauvoo residents have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals.
George Michael Mullinax, 54, and Sharon Mullinax, 55, were arrested Friday on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals, after a deceased horse was discovered on their property by the Walker County Sheriff's Office on Jan. 10.
The arrest came one day after the couple regained custody of their 27 dogs, after making headlines for allegedly running a puppy mill operation.
Deputy Sheriff Carl Carpenter, who witnessed the dead horse at the Mullinaxes property at 6609 Nauvoo Road, provided further insight into the horse's condition.
"The way the horse was killed was ultimately a cruel way. There was a more humane way to handle that. I think they had the resources to do so, and they chose not to," Carpenter said. "We believe that some kind of animal mauled it to death. It laid on the ground and suffocated for about two and a half days before it did die."
After arrest warrants were formally issued, Carpenter said the Mullinaxes turned themselves in to police last Friday and were released on a recognizance bond that evening.
Dogs returned to Mullinaxes
On the same day a dead horse was discovered at the Mullinaxes property, the Boston Terriers, French bulldogs and Frenchtons were seized on suspicion the Mullinaxes were running a puppy mill operation.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, District Court Judge Greg Williams ruled the case dismissed without prejudice and ordered the dogs be returned to the Mullinaxes.
The dogs had been in custody of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society since Jan. 10, but had to be returned to the Mullinaxes on Saturday.
Williams' ruling came after the Mullinaxes were ordered to present certification from a licensed veterinarian, vouching they had the ability to provide for the dogs and maintain their care.
"They were able to get a vet certificate to say they were capable of taking care of the dogs, so Judge Williams ordered that the dogs be returned to them," Carpenter said. "That case isn't over with. They were just granted custody of the dogs back."
Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith added, "They haven't had a criminal case brought against them for the dogs, to my understanding. That's coming down the pipe."
The original petition filed in the District Court of Walker County asked the court to determine if the owners were fit to have custody of the dogs and if the dogs should permanently be transferred to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society.
GBHS CEO Allison Black Cornelius told the Daily Mountain Eagle in January that at the time of the dogs' seizure, GBHS employees could smell a foul odor while heading down the driveway of the property owned by George and Sharon Mullinax.
"The inside of the house was in disarray. There was a very, very strong urine and fecal smell. There was quite a lot of clutter. It was a mess, and the smell was overwhelming bad," Cornelius said.
She further stated that dogs were observed eating the dead horse — the same horse that brought forth aggravated animal cruelty charges.
While a criminal investigation is pending regarding the dogs, Carpenter stands behind the original puppy mill and cruelty claims.
"I think they are running a puppy mill. I think they are putting profit over the care of their animals," he said. "Subsequent investigation and interviews that I've had confirm that."