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Nave sentenced for animal cruelty

Diane Elizabeth Nave, 64, of Nutbush Road in Victoria, was convicted Friday in Lunenburg General District Court of three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty as a result of neglecting dogs and cats discovered in May, according to a release from the Lunenburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Clement and his assistant Baxter Stegall said in the release they were prepared to go forward with what would have likely been a full-day trial on 15 charges that were taken out by Animal Control Officer (ACO) Ray Elliott. Nave decided to plead guilty to three of the charges and take the recommended penalty of three years in jail with all suspended subject to conditions of not owning or possessing more than two animals whether belonging to her or others, paying restitution of $1,815 to Lunenburg Animal Hospital and $1,600 to Lunenburg for caring for the animals since their seizure, warrantless searches, and good behavior, according to the release. She also must release all other animals that she had acquired since the others were seized.

Conditions included three main issues: lack of appropriate shelter, lack of clean water, and lack of veterinarian care, according to the release. Three dogs had heavily matted hair with feces and dirt and causing infected skin with large pustules on one. Some had ear infections with one so bad that it had a black discharge blocking the ear completely.

Dr. Brandi Ashman was ready to testify that such matted hair cause the dog to be unable to regulate its body temperature in hot weather as well as causing infections. There was no dwelling on this property, only one shed and a 90s conversion van with one dog chained to the bumper and one Bichon Frise left inside with only small vent windows open. A heat gun was used and determined an interior temperature of 125 degrees. One cat and six kittens were also in the van. All animals had excessive fleas and ticks.

There were algae in the water bowls. One dog was coughing badly, and the veterinarian determined that he had a mass in one lung.

Clement said in the release that Nave vehemently denied neglecting the animals, alleging that she was a professional groomer, and loved the animals dearly. The animals appeared sufficiently fed and up to date on their vaccinations. She had a kennel license.

However, said Clement, she was convicted in 2016 in Buckingham County on three counts of Animal Cruelty and sentenced to two years suspended with good behavior and restitution of $8,973.

“Fortunately,” said Clement, “no animals died as a direct result of her negligence, but they were living in deplorable conditions.” Clement said it is not at all unusual for individuals to undoubtedly love pets and yet get to the point of harboring more than they can care for. “For some reason they cannot see the conditions as they exist,” he added.

Clement said that ACO Ray Elliott, Veterinarian Dr. Brandi Ashman and the staff of Lunenburg Animal Hospital, Francee Schuma of the Southside SPCA, and Prosecutor Baxter Stegall deserved great praise for their many hours of field work, health care and preparation for the trial.