A Lee County couple facing multiple animal neglect charges decided to change their plea, avoiding a trial in the matter.
On July 12, David and Gina Sams’ attorney, Kyler D. Massner of the law firm Cray, filed a motion to set a plea date. In the motion, it was noted that there was to be a pre-trial on July 12. The motion indicates that the defendants had discussions and expressed their intention to change their guilty plea.
The pair had pleaded not guilty to seven counts of animal neglect in March, shortly after being charged and removing dozens of animals from their home in rural Argyle.
The couple were working with attorney Curtis Dial, but he filed a motion to withdraw from the case in June.
The Sams’ new attorney requested that a plea date be set for a week or two, as the defendants wanted to submit a written guilty plea.
A plea hearing has been set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2, in Lee County District Court.
The charges are misdemeanors, which can carry a fine of up to $850 and up to 30 days in jail. If the Sams were sentenced to prison, the maximum would be 210 days if they were sentenced to serve time consecutively.
The charges stem from the sale of seven German Shepherd dogs on Feb. 11 to someone who is a member of Keokuk Animal Services Partners in Rescue, or KASPIR, the nonprofit that supports Keokuk Animal Services.
According to court documents, the dogs were three 8-month-old males, one 6-month-old male and three 6-month-old females. Court documents say the animals came from two separate litters that the couple had been trying to sell since around November. The cost of the dogs was $150 each.
The animals were all examined by a licensed veterinarian on February 11, who found that all the animals were underweight, had feces in their fur, pale gums and needed extensive deworming.
After the dogs were purchased in February, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office returned to the property to remove dozens of animals.
ARL representatives reported dog crates stacked on top of each other with two or three dogs in a crate designed for one dog.