Above Photo By: Pine Bluff Commercial Photographer, William Harvey
(Pictured Above) Mr. & Mrs. James and Tara Best, owners and operators of “Bust Bee Pets” appear in Division 1 of District Court before the Honorable Judge Kim Bridgforth on 186 separate counts of cruelty to animals following Thursday’s raid by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at their property located at 1315 Mail Route Road in Jefferson, Arkansas.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Major Lafayette Woods, Jr.
Operation Commander/Public Information Officer
ACCUSED JEFFERSON COUNTY COUPLE APPEAR IN COURT ON 186 COUNTS OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS FOLLOWING SUSPECTED "PUPPY MILL" RAID AND SEIZURE OF ANIMALS: Jefferson County, Arkansas – March 1, 2014 – Mr. and Mrs. James and Tara Best appeared in Jefferson County Division ...1 District Court before the Honorable Judge Kim Bridgforth on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:00 A.M. as part of an initial appearance/plea and arraignment on 186 separate counts of cruelty to animals following Thursday’s raid by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) at their property located at 1315 Mail Route Road in Jefferson, Arkansas. Among the animals rescued and seized from the property were 121 dogs, 20 horses, 2 cats, 11 birds, 1 turtle, 19 chickens and 9 rabbits. A portion of the animals were in immediate need of critical medical treatment due to the severity of their health and living conditions.
A not guilty plea was entered and the matter was set for trial on April 29, 2014. Mr. & Mrs. Best indicated that they will retain legal counsel. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office fully expects misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals will in all likelihood be upgraded to felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Mr. & Mrs. Best were served with an order advising their right to file a petition within fifteen (15) business days from the date of service (2/28/2014) as a response to the forfeiture of the animals seized in the case. However, if the Bests move forward and file such a petition to contest the forfeiture then they will be ordered by the court to post a $90,000.00 cash bond associated with the care of the animals for 30 days. In the event the couple decides not to file a petition to contest the forfeiture then authorities from the sheriff’s office and prosecutor’s office will assume permanent custody of the animals. The couple is due back in court for a forfeiture hearing in March.
Unfortunately, the animals rescued in this case cannot be offered for adoption or sale at this time due to obvious judicial reasons. The investigation as well as the case is on-going. As such, the animals rescued in this case will remain in custody at the shelters until there has been a disposition rendered in the case and/or a forfeiture decision has been rendered.