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Groomer Reports to Jail

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  • Groomer Reports to Jail

    The owner of a now-closed pet grooming business in Angels Camp who pleaded no contest to felony animal negligence on April 2 reported to the Calaveras County Jail on Friday to serve a jail sentence that will last just under a month.

    Vonna Hughes, 70, was sentenced to three years of formal probation and up to 60 days in the Calaveras County Jail or in an alternative sentencing program by Judge Susan C. Harlan on May 7 for her role in the treatment of a 9-year-old American pitbull, Cici, who was found dead after being in the care of Pet Bath House in Angels Camp.

    It was uncertain whether Hughes would serve jail time at the conclusion of the case because she was ordered at the sentencing hearing to report to the Calaveras County Probation Office in San Andreas to determine her eligibility for an alternative work program or home electronic monitoring.

    Sam Leach, chief probation officer for Calaveras County, said on Friday the determination on Hughes’ eligibility not releasable because it was determined after her sentencing.

    Harlan said if Hughes was determined to be ineligible for alternative sentencing she must report to the jail no later than Friday, June 21.

    Lt. Anthony Eberhardt with the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office said Hughes’ release date was July 17.

    At the sentencing hearing it was determined Hughes had four days of time applied to her sentence. She was held in the Calaveras County Jail for two days after her arrest in July 2017. She remained out on bail until May 9, according to the Calaveras County Superior Court.

    Hughes was accused of three counts of felony animal cruelty, two counts of felony grand theft and two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty related to the three pitbulls left in her care in June 2017 by Butte Fire survivors.

    In early July 2017, Casper, 11, a red-nose pit bull; Cici, 9, an American pit bull, and Coco, 3, a brindle pit bull, disappeared from Pet Bath House. Cici was found dead in a trash bag at a Utica Power Authority property in Murphys about a month later. Casper and Coco were located by Calaveras County Animal Services.

    Hughes said the dogs were violent and attacked her and other animals in her care due to kennel stress. According to the criminal complaint, she charged inflated bills to the pit bull owners after the incidents.

    All of the charges except felony animal negligence were dropped according to a plea bargain.

    Hughes was ordered to pay $2,125 in restitution to Steven and Natalie Mendoza, the owners of the pitbulls.

    The probation report for Hughes also said she may not seek or obtain employment related to animals for the duration of her probation.

    The City of Angels Camp pulled the operating permit for Pet Bath House after multiple protests by supporters of the Mendozas.

    Hughes had operated the Angels Camp pet grooming, kennel and boarding service since 2013.

    Hughes faces up to four years in prison if she violates probation.
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