Couple fined in animal cruelty case

WOODSTOCK – An Edinburg couple must pay almost $4,000 in restitution after pleading guilty Friday in Shenandoah County General District Court to several counts of animal cruelty.

The defendants, Travis and Tina Baker, also must pay several hundred dollars in fines for keeping a variety of animals in what authorities describe as poor health.

The Bakers also agreed to refrain from keeping any animals as pets or for agricultural purposes, except for several that were specifically identified by name.

The couple, now separated, initially faced a combined total of 48 counts pertaining to deficiencies in caring for animals on their farm at 605 Swover Creek Road. Authorities who visited the farm said they found 53 chickens, 14 cats, nine guinea pigs, six dogs, six goats, eight sheep, three turkeys, two rabbits, two calves, one pigeon and one pig, all showing signs of neglect.

The animals were relocated to other homes in the county after authorities executed a search warrant.

A search warrant filed as part of the investigation said animal control officials had been receiving complaints about noises that sounded like dogs in distress at the farm.

Tina Baker pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and Travis Baker pleaded guilty to 10 counts. The remaining charges were dropped. Travis Baker was fined a total of $600 – $100 on each of six counts – and Tina Baker was fined a total of $350. Each defendant received two suspended 12-month jail sentences. The plea agreement also imposes a single restitution amount of $3,947 that the defendants can divide between themselves in whatever way they decide.

The plea agreement also allows law enforcement officials to conduct random searches of the Bakers’ residences for several years.

Judge Amy Tisinger told the couple that the number of animals they had taken on exceeded their ability or commitment to care for them.

“It is an issue because you have to take care of each individually as if you only had one,” Tisinger said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com