Lawrence Couple Pleads Guilty In Animal Neglect Case

Guilty pleas for a Lawrence Township couple in an animal cruelty case. Donald Smith and Melissa Copen reached a plea deal with Van Buren County prosecutors on Thursday, and won’t be allowed to keep their animals. They’ll avoid jail if they complete their probation. Animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies took 108 dogs, six cats and a horse from their home in June. The conditions inside the home were described by Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler as horrendous. She said this summer in an interview with WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids after the animals were seized that they weren’t mistreated and her and her husband got overwhelmed while trying to start an animal rescue program.