By Greg Wehner, Staff Writer
(May 26, 2022) A Pocomoke City man was found guilty of nine counts related to animal cruelty last week for incidents stemming back to July 2021.
On May 20, Michael Louis Parrett, 65, was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and six counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide the necessary healthy living conditions – things like nutritious food, necessary veterinary care, space, shelter, and protection for weather.
All nine counts carry 90-day jail sentences, though a Worcester County judge in Snow Hill suspended all but 10 of the 810 days Parrett faced.
Parrett was also given three years of unsupervised probation.
Following the conviction on Friday, State’s Attorney Kris Heiser filed a petition with the courts, accusing Parrett of violating his unsupervised probation.
As part of the probation conditions, Parrett was not permitted to own or possess any animals. At approximately 3 p.m. on May 20, Worcester County Animal Control officers went to the Parrett’s property and did not find dogs there, but instead, saw evidence that dogs recently lived there. It is estimated, according to court documents, that Parrett still had approximately five dogs in his possession.
As a private dog breeder, Parrett focused on breeding Australian Shepherds.
County officials became aware of Parrett after neighbors complained that a hoarder was residing at 2844 Byrd Road in Pocomoke City. When the officials went to investigate, they found a barren parcel of land with more than 30 dogs, some of which were sick.
According to Worcester County Commissioner Josh Nordstrom, who represents Pocomoke City, the scene was so bad that after the agencies and officials checked the property, they wanted to find a way to get Parrett to stop breeding dogs.
The commissioner also explained that Parrett did the bare minimum when it came to getting the dogs the shots they needed, but what he did was within the law.
Nordstrom and the other commissioners enacted a series of county laws in August 2021 that changed the standards.
For instance, the new laws have criteria for hold times for strays, dictates who can operate kennels, sets standards for the upkeep of kennels and what’s considered suitable shelter, puts vaccination and mental state requirements in place for adoptions, and defined animal control terms for things like “commercial kennel,” and “dog.”