Woman accused of defrauding pet owners enters plea

District attorney says woman was charged with cruelty to animals

WHARTON COUNTY, Texas – The Wharton County District Attorney said 25-year-old Jennifer Herbers is not to own animals to sell again.

District Attorney Ross Kurtz said Herbers was accused of defrauding pet owners. He said investigators searched her property in rural Wharton County and found animals that were in bad shape.

"They recovered animals that matched what she put online," said Kurtz. "Those animals not only turned out to be put out under false pretenses, false contracts and false certificates that we seized from her."

Kurtz said Herbers was charged with cruelty to animals. He said investigators later returned and found 35 dogs.

After that search, Herbers was accused of signing a contract using someone else's name. Kurtz said she faked many documents -- including pedigree certificates for animals that were not pure breed.

"In prior interviews with the police, she admitted that the name she has, Ms. Herbers, is no longer valid in the dog breeding community," said Kurtz. "So she signed that contract 'Jennifer Hailey,' which is how she committed the crime."

Facing even more charges, Kurtz said she was willing to enter a guilty plea this week on three charges including theft and animal cruelty, to give up the 35 dogs and to only keep her one dog, rabbits and horses on her property and no more animals for profit.

"If she is found guilty of any other theft or cruelty to animals, it's automatically a felony because she will have those enhancements," said Kurtz.

"It's very upsetting and disheartening," said Cindy Cerny, the president of the Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team.

Cerny said her team helped place all 35 dogs so they could be adopted.

"It's sad to see that someone can actually go out and do that, and they're concerned more about the dollar that they're getting out of it than the life or the welfare of these animals," said Cerny.

Herbers will serve probation for three years and must repay $1,100 for the animals' care. The other charges were dismissed as part of the plea.

No one at Herbers' property on County Road 129 would talk about the case. A man on the property said it was a sealed court case.