A Maryland woman was sentenced to prison for animal cruelty charges after 27 dogs were found dead, and another 27 were discovered in poor condition, inside a home she rented with her husband.
Laura Filler was sentenced to 33 years Tuesday, with all but seven years suspended, the Carroll County Times reported.
The sentencing comes more than a year after she and her husband were arrested following a search of the home by animal control officers. The couple had been operating an unlicensed breeding operation, according to the county's state's attorney office.
Filler, who pleaded guilty to some of the counts against her in October, expressed remorse before her sentencing. “I’m very sorry all this happened,” she said.
At the sentencing, prosecutors showed a video of the house from April 2019. The footage displayed decaying remains of the dogs in bathtubs and smeared dirt on the walls, said Melissa Hockensmith, the senior assistant state’s attorney for Carroll County. Judge Fred S. Hecker, who sentenced Filler, described the house as a “chamber of horrors.”
Filler’s husband, John J. Roberts, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of aggravated animal cruelty in October. He was sentenced to 33 years, with all but 11 years suspended.
Filler’s attorneys, Janette Deboissiere and Lee McNulty, argued she was controlled by Roberts, who they say was the main person responsible for the condition of the animals. They also said Filler had been living in her car and did not know about the condition of the house.
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“She had to know about the torture and mistreatment,” the newspaper quotes Hecker as saying. Because of this, the 56-year-old showed “extreme indifference” to the suffering of the dogs, Hecker added.
The couple was also ordered to pay restitution to the organization that owned the home, and the local chapter of the Humane Society, which took the rescued animals.
Hecker said he would recommend Filler to the Patuxent Institution, a correctional center that serves inmates with mental health issues.