Two charged with 45 counts of animal abuse, 3 counts of child abuse

Published 11:01 am Monday, October 30, 2023

SALISBURY – A couple has been charged with nearly 100 counts of animal and child abuse after Rowan County Animal Enforcement responded to complaints about their home on Thursday.

Justin Robert Lee Smith, 34, and Madyson Danyell Clontz, 27, were each charged with 45 counts of felony animal abuse and three counts of misdemeanor child abuse in relation to the condition of the animals in their home. The home is located in the 200 block of Morlan Park Road.

A spokesperson for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said that the investigation began when a rescue group located a stray dog. A veterinarian treated the dog and discovered that it was in a state of starvation. Further research showed that it was microchipped and registered to Smith and Clontz’s home.

On Thursday, members of Animal Enforcements Cruelty Investigation Team searched the home along with deputies from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and removed dozens of animals. The spokesperson said that there were 11 dogs, two cats, three goats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, a beta fish, four guineafowl, four ducks, six chicken hens, eight roosters, two pigs and two snakes. One dog, one goat and one snake were found dead.

The spokesperson also said that the residence was in very poor condition and that deputies found mold and rat feces. The poor condition was the basis for the child abuse charges.

Smith was given a $6,000 bond and Clontz was given a $3,000 bond.

Maria Pannell, director of Rowan County animal services, said that all of the surviving animals were brought to the animal shelter and treated. All of the healthy ones were put up for adoption, with Pannell saying that many have already found homes after an adoption event on Saturday. The shelter is holding a few animals so the veterinarians can treat them further.

At the time of the seizure, officers said that they were pulling together all of the information and presenting it to the District Attorney’s office, who would then decide what to charge.