Ypsilanti couple seen beating puppies sentenced to year of probation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – An Ypsilanti couple charged with animal cruelty in October has been sentenced to a year of probation, according to the Humane Society of Huron Valley.

Toreek Belton and Nandella Penn were seen dragging, beating and kicking puppies by a bystander on March 29. Video surveillance footage of the property confirmed the bystander’s account resulting in two puppies and a young dog being removed by HSHV Cruelty Investigators.

Additional footage allegedly revealed more violent incidents including one of the defendants throwing a puppy to the ground and hitting a puppy to get it to climb stairs.

Read: Couple from Ypsilanti charged with animal cruelty

On Monday, Penn and Belton each pled guilty to one count of animal abandonment/cruelty and were sentenced to one year of probation, said HSHV in a release.

In October, the Ypsilanti residents were charged with a misdemeanor and agreed to pay $4,000 in restitution as part of a plea agreement for the costs incurred by HSHV as it rehabilitated the dogs. Two of the dogs were given to HSHV and have already been adopted.

During their probation, neither Penn nor Belton can house, possess or own any animals. If they successfully complete probation, the charges will be removed from their records due to the HYTA Act, HSHV said.

“While we always hope for rehabilitation of offenders, especially young people, it’s important to take animal cruelty seriously. Not just because of the harm to completely innocent animals, but also because violence toward animals is strongly linked to family violence, community violence and other crimes,” said HSHV President and CEO Tanya Hilgendorf in a statement.

“Animals are reliant on us for protection and to be their voices. As always, we are grateful to those caring and brave community members who called us and helped with this case.”

Anyone in Washtenaw County who suspects animal neglect or abuse can report incidents online to HSHV or call 734-661-3512.

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Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.