A Maryland correctional officer who locked 12 dogs inside a house where 9 of them starved to death will serve 45 days of home confinement as punishment.
Christopher Preston, 29, was sentenced to 90 days in jail on Tuesday, with 45 days suspended, the Cumberland Times-News reports. Allegany County Circuit Court Judge Gary G. Leasure is permitting Preston to serve his time at home.
Because he is serving time at home, rather than in jail, Preston may be able to keep his job as a correctional officer, his attorney told the Cumberland Times-News.
Preston was convicted of 10 animal cruelty counts in December. The dozen dogs were found inside a vacant home in the town of Bel Air in August, according to Your4State. Preston had moved out of the home weeks earlier and left the animals locked inside with no food or water.
Authorities searched the home after multiple concerned calls from neighbors who heard barking and foul odors coming from inside the home. By the time animal control officers got to the residence, nine of the dogs were dead, and three were suffering from dehydration, starvation and anemia.
Those three dogs were brought to the Allegany County Animal Shelter, where they were nursed back to health. Shelter director Tina Rafferty told the Dodo that the dogs have now all been adopted and “are in great homes.”
In December, Preston testified that he had been unable to care for his pets, and was unsuccessful in finding new homes for them. “I feel like there was more I could have done,” he told the court, according to the Cumberland Times-News.
Preston’s sentence will be followed by two years of probation. While serving probation, Preston will be required to undergo counseling, take part in 50 hours of community service and provide restitution to the Allegany County Animal Shelter.