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November 25, 2009

The HSUS is Thankful for Just Punishment for Convicted Animal Abuser

The Humane Society of the United States praises Baxter County, Ark. District Judge Van Gearhart for sentencing William Hanson to eight months in jail today, nearly four years after Hanson's conviction on 20 counts of animal cruelty at his compound.

"The Humane Society of the United States is happy that William Hanson, and his wife, Tammy Hanson, are finally behind bars for their awful mistreatment of the animals at their compound," said Desiree Bender, The HSUS' Arkansas state director, who worked with staff, colleagues and volunteers to set up an emergency sheltering operation at the Hanson property after the Baxter County Sheriff's Department raided it. "We thank Baxter County Sheriff John Montgomery and Prosecutor Ron Kincade for their dedication in bringing this case to justice and Judge Van Gearhart for delivering it."

Hanson was ordered to pay $13,000 in fines and $5,000 in restitution to The HSUS, and to have no contact with animals within the first year of his probation. In October 2005, The HSUS spent more than $100,000 to care for and re-home 500 badly neglected animals seized by authorities from Hanson's property. More than 100 of the animals were displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Following its October 2005 emergency deployment at the Hansons' compound, The HSUS worked closely with Arkansas law enforcement authorities to develop leads and to bring the Hansons to justice. The HSUS paid out two rewards to tipsters who led authorities to William Hanson in Missouri in September 2009.

The Hanson case served as an impetus for the passage of Arkansas' first felony animal cruelty law this year.

Animal Hoarding:

Animal hoarding affects as many as several hundred thousand animals every year in the United States, with more than 1,000 cases arising annually. Hoarding cases place a significant financial and practical strain on local humane societies and law enforcement agencies.

Timeline:

  • Nov. 13, 2009 — William Hanson extradicted from Missouri to Arkansas. Hanson fled from Vermont to Missouri after being cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty in August. He failed to appear for his court date in Vermont, and a warrant was issued for his arrest with a $25,000 cash bond ordered.
  • Nov. 4, 2009 — William Hanson's wife, Tammy Hanson, was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $10,000 in fines, $3,000 in court costs and $5,000 in restitution to The HSUS. 
  • Sept. 25, 2009 — Tammy Hanson extradited from Vermont to Arkansas.
  • Sept. 22, 2009 — William Hanson apprehended in Missouri, relinquishes 22 animals to The Humane Society of Missouri, and The HSUS transports them to Vermont for adoption to loving homes. The HSUS pays two tipster rewards in the case.
  • Aug. 11, 2009 — Vermont authorities executed a search warrant on the premises where Tammy and William Hanson were living in Vermont. The search warrant was issued during an investigation prompted when Vermont authorities received a complaint about Tammy Hanson. The victim/complaining party reported that Tammy Hanson had contacted her, purporting to be an attorney-at-law, and had coerced the victim into turning over to Hanson a golden retriever named "Sandy." Authorities found approximately 30 dogs inside the home on the property, including the victim's dog "Sandy," who was removed from the premises. William Hanson was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty.
  • July 18, 2009 — Tammy Hanson apprehended and held in Vermont.
  • July 31, 2009 — New Arkansas anti-cruelty law, partly inspired by the Hanson case, takes effect.
  • Feb. 24, 2006 — Tammy and William Hanson, convicted on 20 counts of cruelty to animals in Baxter County District Court, failed to show up for their sentencing hearing. Judge Van Gearhart issued warrants for their arrests. Tammy Hanson is also wanted by Lawrence County, Mo., officials for failing to appear in circuit court. That charge was for multiple counts of theft of animals that were previously rescued from Baxter County.
  • Jan. 16, 2006 — Tammy and William Hanson were found guilty on 20 counts of cruelty to animals.
  • Nov. 21, 2005 — Baxter County District Judge Van Gearhart ruled that 327 animals found in filthy conditions at the so-called sanctuary could be relocated and adopted into new homes. Gearhart denied the Hansons' request to regain custody of the animals, mostly dogs.
  • Oct. 22, 2005 — Tammy and William Hanson were arrested on charges of cruelty to animals — a Class A misdemeanor punishable with fines up to $1,000 and with up to one year in prison. Law enforcement flew over the property after receiving tips more than 100 dogs from the Gulf Coast — victims of Hurricane Katrina — were being held there.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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