FORNEY, Texas — A Forney school teacher has surrendered to Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office deputies and has been booked into the Kaufman County Jail on charges of cruelty to animals after law enforcement and SPCA of Texas officials seized 452 rabbits from her home last month.
Penny Jean Newton, 58, of Kaufman has been charged and arrested on one count of “Cruelty to non-livestock animals: fail to provide care” a misdemeanor. She surrendered herself and was arrested without incident this morning after a warrant was issued for her late last week.
Newton has not been arraigned and no bond has been set at this time.
On March 6, the KCSO and the SPCA of Texas removed 452 rabbits from Newton’s home. Both agencies had previously seized 166 Rabbits, 36 guinea pigs, 12 goats, five cats, one dog and one bull from the property in July 2013.
A portion of the rabbits seized were pregnant at the time and have given birth since they have been in the SPCA’s custody.
“Approximately 33 rabbits gave birth after they were removed and over 200 babies have been born since the rabbits have been in our care,” SPCA spokesman Victoria Albrecht tells inForney.com
Albrecht says that while some of the rabbits remain in adoption centers and foster homes in the DFW area, the organization has relied on 24 rescue groups from across the country, including groups in Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and across Texas.
“We expect that each rabbit will be placed for adoption when they are healthy, spayed or neutered and ready for new homes,” Albrecht said.
Authorities say Newton’s rabbits were found inside of crates inside a large, barn-type structure covered with tarp and other materials. As previously reported, in some places, more than four crates were stacked on top of one another. The crates were filled with feces, hair, dirt and debris, and the rabbits had little access to appropriate food or water. Many crates contained multiple rabbits, including numerous litters of juvenile rabbits. Two deceased rabbits were found on the property.
“The rabbits appear to have various medical issues, including long nails, hair loss, missing ears, missing eyes, wounds, matted fur and injured limbs,” the SPCA said in a statement.
inForney.com has requested a copy of the arrest warrant affidavit, and this story will be updated upon its release.
Forney ISD officials say Newton has been employed with the district since August 2008. She recently worked as a DAEP Math teacher and service project coordinator at the district’s Forney Learning Academy campus. Newton had previously taught math at Forney High School, where she was honored as the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year.
District officials confirmed to inForney.com that Newton was no longer employed by Forney ISD on Friday.