Former Lawrence County Animal Shelter director surrenders on animal cruelty charges

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MOULTON, Ala. - Bobbie Taylor, the former director of the Lawrence County Animal Shelter, was arrested Thursday on a total of 17 criminal charges stemming from her operation of an animal shelter at her home on Lawrence County Road 170.  Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter tells WHNT News 19 Taylor faces 16 counts of cruelty to an animal and one count of animal abuse. Each is a misdemeanor charge.

Taylor turned herself in Thursday afternoon through an arrangement with her attorney and police.  Her bond was set at $17,000, which is $1,000 for each count.

The charges stem from a joint investigation by Moulton Police and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) after a former worker at the shelter shared a video with investigators and WHNT News 19 of Taylor allegedly abusing one of the dogs. Taylor denied the allegations claiming she was breaking up a fight between two animals when the video was secretly recorded.

The following day, Moulton Police visited the shelter and launched a criminal investigation into conditions there, notifying the ASPCA and asking for their assistance in that investigation. An ASPCA Disaster Response Team of approximately 28 workers and volunteers responded, spending days at Taylor's home caring for the animals. A number of the dogs and cats died within days of the onset of the investigation. Several dead animals were found when ASPCA investigators first arrived at the scene.

The ASPCA established an emergency shelter at the Hillsboro Gin on Highway 20 in Lawrence County, and on July 3 began the 2-day process of removing 251 dogs and 49 cats from Taylor's home to the emergency shelter. A mobile hospital was also brought in to continue to provide emergency medical care for the animals.

Taylor, in an exclusive interview with WHNT News 19, claimed she was the victim of a conspiracy involving at least two members of the Lawrence County Commission and other animal rights activists. She told us at that time she fully expected to be arrested but claimed she would eventually reveal the entire truth regarding how the allegations against her came about. Taylor told us many of the dogs and cats under her care were brought in sick, malnourished and in poor condition. While admitting conditions at her facility were not ideal, she claimed the animals were alive because of her, referring to the county's previous arrangement to transport strays to a Morgan County shelter in Hartselle that routinely euthanizes animals approximately 7 days after their arrival.

Most of the animals under her care were kept in pens and cages outdoors, fully exposed to the elements.

Two days after WHNT News 19 first broke this story, the Lawrence County Commission met in emergency session and voted 3-to-2 to cancel an $80,000 per year contract with Taylor to provide and operate the shelter. The contract also required her to provide an animal control officer and required her to relocate the shelter to a more appropriate location within six months. Taylor claims her efforts to purchase a new location and relocate the facility were blocked by members of the county commission.