Stout pleads guilty to animal abuse

Stout pleads guilty to animal abuse
Taylor Stout

Taylor Stout, 26, of Mexico, has pleaded guilty to animal abuse, a class A misdemeanor, in the Boone County courtroom of Judge Kevin Crane. The case was heard in Boone County after a change of venue from Audrain County.

In July 2019, Stout was employed at a Mexico dog groomer, and during a grooming session with Petunia, a Yorkie dog, grabbed and slammed the dog on a grooming table multiple times. Petunia was injured but survived.

Another co-defendant was present at the time and also harmed the animal.

“Animal abuse cases result in a lot of passion and emotion, and this case is no exception,” said Audrain County Prosecuting Attorney Jacob Shellabarger. “Today’s guilty plea is an admission that Ms. Stout committed the crime of animal abuse – a misdemeanor under Missouri law – that resulted in harm to an animal. She accepted responsibility and was sentenced to a firm sentence that involves intensive supervision, significant community service, restrictions on her activities, and jail all as sanctions.”

Shellabarger says that should Stout violate any one condition of her probation, the court may sentence her to serve up to the full year in jail.

During sentencing, Judge Crane said “Ms. Stout, you messed with the wrong dog — these family members care deeply about this dog.”

Stout was sentenced to one year in the Boone County Jail, with suspended execution of sentence and was placed on two years of supervised probation. Conditions of probation include two days shock detention in the Boone County Jail, restitution of $270 to be paid to the victims, 200 hours of community service at a minimum of eight hours per month, and defendant to complete Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum and provide proof to the prosecuting attorney’s office and to the court.

Stout is ordered not to work in a field associated with animals or animal care, and may not possess additional pets or animals beyond her current pets. She must also pay all costs of the case.
Shellabarger said Stout’s offense was classified as a misdemeanor because the state could not prove it was a deliberate act. Under Missouri, unless the state can show purpose or intention to cause injury the crime remains a misdemeanor.

“In this case, the video evidence shows a series of abusive actions taken in a short period of time,” Shellarbarger said. “The video is shocking, and shows a callous and violent act. There’s no excuse for what happened – but the crime fits the facts. After full review of the evidence, the state couldn’t prove those words, by torture, beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The nature of the incident has generated some deep-rooted emotion throughout the area, something the prosecuting attorney is aware of.

“This case has caused strong reactions across our community, but cases have to be resolved within the bounds of existing law,” Shellabarger said. “The sentence in this case was reached in consultation with the families involved and after their input and agreement. The court heard from the families and from those affected by this crime. This result balances punishment with restorative justice. Ultimately, justice is the goal and fairness under the law, not a specific result, sentence or classification of offense.”

Petunia, a Yorkie dog, has continued medical issues but lives in Mexico with her owners.

The case was investigated by Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller, and Petunia’s veterinary care was provided by University of Missouri Veterinary Medicine.

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