Lee County couple pleads guilty to animal neglect charges

Gina and David Sams are each charged with seven counts of animal neglect in Lee County, Iowa.
Gina and David Sams are each charged with seven counts of animal neglect in Lee County, Iowa.(KWQC/Lee County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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ARGYLE, Iowa (KWQC) – A rural Lee County couple pleaded guilty earlier this month as part of an animal neglect investigation.

Lee County court records show David and Gina Sams, 42 and 47 respectively, pleaded guilty to four counts of animal neglect, a simple misdemeanor, on Aug. 3.

They were given a suspended 40 jail sentence and placed on one year of probation.

As a condition of probation, they agreed to random inspection of their property by the Lee County Sheriff’s Department and will not breed any animals for sale.

However, if the couple does intend to breed animals while on probation, they must apply for a license with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Stewardship and will be subject to oversight as required by the department.

They also were ordered to pay $11,260.38 in restitution.

According to an arrest affidavit:

On Feb. 11, David Sams sold seven German Shepherds to the Keokuk Animal Services Partners in Rescue for $150 a dog.

The dogs included three 8-month-old males, one 6-month-old male, and three 6-month-old females.

The dogs came from two separate litters that Gina Sams had been trying to sell since November.

The seven dogs were examined by a vet, who found the animals were underweight, had impacted feces in their fur, and pale gums, and needed extensive de-worming.

One of the 8-month-old male dogs weighed 31 pounds. The average weight for an 8-month-old male is 64 pounds.

Investigators believed the dogs did not have access to an adequate amount or quality of food to meet their basic nutrition.

Investigators also found the dogs were not properly groomed to prevent adverse health effects due to being in unsanitary conditions that had excessive animal waste, according to the affidavit.

On Feb. 22, the Lee County Criminal Investigations Division searched the couple’s home in the 1800 block of 340th Street in rural Argyle.

According to a media release, multiple types of animals were found and their welfare was checked on by a veterinarian. The couple was told to clean up and organize the property and to begin to thin the number of animals on the property to assure they were being kept safely and humanely.

A follow-up search was done March 15 to assure the welfare of the animals on the property were being kept lawfully as discussed with the couple, according to the release. The couple was taken into custody the same day.

The remaining animals were surrendered and turned over to the Animal League of Iowa. The animals include dogs, cats, goats, horses, donkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, peacock, turkey, rabbits, pig, hedgehog, lizards, and chinchilla, according to the release.

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