Cheer Savannah owner indicted on cruelty to animals charge

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The viral video of the Cheer Savannah owner kicking her dog during a practice over the summer may have played a big part in a grand jury recently deciding to indict the woman.

Stephanie Britt is facing a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals, which carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

According to the court document, Britt was indicted for causing physical pain to an animal, dachshund canine named Charlie, by an unjustifiable act.

But realistically, how far do punishments go in animal abuse cases?

The director of the Coastal Pet Rescue, which serves Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties says she's actually testified in about 20 animal abuse cases over the years. In all but one of those court cases, Lisa Scarbrough says the accused walked away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Scarbrough says along with the act caught on cellphone video, the behavior modeled in front of the children in the gym that day is disappointing to her. She says while she doesn't have any expectations for Britt's case as it moves through the justice system, she is encouraged by the amount of social media attention.

"I think if nothing else, the best thing to come out of this is that we're finally seeing people having discussions about the treatment of animals in our community. Because I've been watching it for a lot of years, where people sat silently by. And for whatever reason, this catalyst just came out and it got people talking, on both sides of the issues, whether you are for or against, at least it's being acknowledged that this is a problem. And we do need to address it," Scarbrough said.

I did check in with Cheer Savannah on Wednesday night, which was hosting its usual evening activities. Britt wasn't in.

There's no word on when the case will be in front of a judge, but we'll let you know as soon as we find out.

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