News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday July 12, 2011
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- Five animals were left dead for days in a Columbia County house. Investigators who made the gruesome discovery say the family pets were trapped inside with no air conditioning, food or water. They're calling it a form of torture.
It's a story that's shocked a Martinez neighborhood, and a man is in jail because of it.
He's facing felony animal cruelty charges after investigators found three dogs and two cats dead in a home on Winchester Trail. Neighbors aren't the only ones upset about it.
It's one of the worst cases Columbia County Animal Control has ever seen and say it all could have been prevented.
Ashley Reynolds and her family loves animals, especially their Lab, Bentley. She was very upset to hear her neighbor was accused of aggravated animal cruelty.
"Surprised, shocked, unbelievable. It's very sad. We have a dog and it breaks my heart. You should treat your animals like family," Reynolds said.
Investigators say the couple living at the home moved to Aiken and couldn't take the animals with them. The husband, Mark Stephen Robinson, was feeding them and giving them water, but for some reason investigators say he stopped.
"This is all out, bar none, the worst animal cruelty case we've seen," said Daniel Mayne, the Columbia County animal control field supervisor. "Extremely sad situation, there's no need to put an animal through that kind of torment."
Deputies were first called to the home because the homeowner had told family members he was going to commit suicide there. When officers arrived, they found the five animals.
"Something else could have been done other than leaving them there to die," Reynolds said.
Ashley said the couple appeared to really care for animals. Robinson's latest job was listed as a kennel technician at Suggs Kennel in Augusta.
"They took care of them, you would see them outside, and it just amazes me. You don't know who your neighbors are," Reynolds said.
Investigators say Robinson's wife will not be arrested because she apparently didn't know the animals were going hungry. The county is in the process of condemning the home.
News 12 spoke with the owner of Suggs Kennel, and he said Robinson worked there for a short time and had little contact with the animals.
Robinson's been charged with aggravated animal cruelty, which is a felony. If convicted, he could serve up to five years in prison and face a $15,000 fine.
"Animals can't walk up to the tap and turn on the faucet for themselves," Mayne said. "They rely on us to provide that care for them, and whenever someone fails to do that, they need to be held accountable for those actions."