Opelousas, LA (KPEL News) - A story about animal cruelty is nearly as heartbreaking as one about child abuse. Unfortunately in Louisiana, we hear about more of them each day.

Animal shelters across the greater Lafayette area are full, with advocates pleading for people to adopt pets rather than go to a breeder. "Puppy mills" are notorious for mistreating animals through neglect and lack of affection. Pet owners are strongly encouraged to have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered to prevent overpopulation.

This week, St. Landry Parish officials arrested a 71-year-old man on four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 34 counts of cruelty to animals. Louisiana law (RS 14:102.1) differentiates between the two charges.

Cruelty to animals is defined as:

Any person who intentionally or with criminal negligence commits any of the following shall be guilty of simple cruelty to animals.

Aggravated cruelty to animals charges are more severe:

Any person who intentionally or with criminal negligence tortures, maims, or mutilates any living animal, whether belonging to himself or another, shall be guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals.

The animal shelter contacted St. Landry Parish Animal Control Investigator Spencer Cornette on Friday, March 15, about animals that were being locked up in a building on West Landry Street in Opelousas. When they arrived, they discovered several animals were locked inside what was an old veterinarian clinic.

Investigators obtained a warrant and seized 38 animals: 34 dogs and 4 goats. All of the animals were taken to the St. Landry Parish Animal Shelter.

Cornette told KLFY News 10 that the suspect, Warren Michot, was brought to the hospital for medical treatment, leaving the animals at the building. Michot rejected an offer by Cornette's office to check on the animals.

According to Cornette, Michot had been arrested before in another Louisiana town. He told KLFY:

He was arrested several years ago in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. I think at that time he had 103 Brittany Spaniels seized from him at that time for animal cruelty.

Michot has since bonded out, but he faces fines of up to $25,000 and one to 10 years in jail. Louisiana law may also require him to go through a psychological evaluation.

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