70 animals seized, pair charged in Burke animal cruelty case

Andrew Julian Moore, left; and Stephanie Michelle McElhany
Andrew Julian Moore, left; and Stephanie Michelle McElhany

Authorities seized dozens of animals, including six horses and 19 dogs, from a home in Morganton recently after they say the animals hadn’t been properly cared for.

Two people who live at the home – Andrew Julian Moore, 23, and Stephanie Michelle McElhany, 24, – each face nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in the case. Both are expected to make a first appearance in court on Wednesday.

Officials said more charges are pending in the case.

Burke authorities said animal control had been monitoring the home in the 5100 block of Gouge Avenue since May 2013. This summer, authorities said the animals’ conditions “declined significantly.” In October, a veterinarian was asked to examine the animals, according to a news release.

“Over the next two months, the animals’ living conditions and the health of the animals continued to decline,” the Burke County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Sheriff Steve Whisenant told The (Morganton) News Herald that animal care works with owners to ensure that animals are cared for, but a plan wasn’t followed in this case. “The Sheriff’s Office was left with no choice but to seize the animals to ensure their health,” Whisenant said in a statement to the paper.

In all, deputies seized 70 animals: six horses, six donkeys, 19 dogs, one rat, one ferret, one cat and 36 snakes.