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Benscoter gets 12 years for animal abuse

FARMINGTON — A woman who has been in trouble twice for not taking care of her animals is going to prison.

On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Sandy Martinez sentenced Tamara Lynn Benscoter, 46, formerly of Iron Mountain Lake, to 12 years in prison for two counts of felony animal abuse and for violating the probation she received for passing a bad check.

According to court records, Iron Mountain Lake Police Department began investigating a report of animal neglect at Benscoter’s residence on Sept. 9, 2008. After receiving the report, police saw Benscoter leave her residence with several birds, a rifle and propane tanks.

She told police that she was moving to Park Hills and admitted the dogs at her Iron Mountain Lake residence were without food and water. She granted permission to let police check the well-being of the dogs.

Police Chief Michael Kemp said some dogs had rainwater in buckets and only one out of the six dogs had food. The property was also infested with fleas. He said at that time, the dogs appeared to be relatively healthy.

Police returned on Sept. 23 to check on the dogs and to ask Benscoter about having a rifle. Kemp said no one was at the property and it seemed apparent no one had been there in two weeks. The gate was still wired shut and there were no tracks in the mud. Three of the dogs had rainwater but the other three had none.

A neighbor told police that she hadn’t seen Benscoter in two weeks and she had not been by to pick up her mail or newspapers.

The Missouri Humane Society seized the six dogs and they were taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

In June of 2004, Benscoter and her husband Fred H. Benscoter, 55, were charged with 70 counts of misdemeanor animal abuse. The Humane Society of Missouri seized 119 animals from the couple’s residence located in Gumbo. Authorities found horrible living conditions and animals with ailments that ranged from infections to mange to starvation.

Benscoter received bench probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge. Her husband was also placed on bench probation, but was later sentenced to one year in jail when he violated his probation.

In 2007, Benscoter was placed on supervised probation for passing a bad check. Her probation was suspended for a short time but later reinstated for failing to make restitution payments to the Missouri Humane Society for $10,000 worth of animal care.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at tressel@dailyjournalonline.com.

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