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Home  |  News  |  SC couple arrested for snakes in home

SC couple arrested for snakes in home
Friday, May 11, 2012

GREENVILLE, SC (WYFF) - An Upstate couple who had eight venomous snakes removed from their home last month is now charged with child neglect.

On April 26, Greenville County Animal Control officers and deputies removed five glass containers that held the snakes from a home in the 4200 block of Geer Highway.

Charles Dutton was charged with keeping a dangerous animal without a permit.
Dutton signed the snakes over to the county. The snakes were placed with a rescue organization.

The case was given to the Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Children Unit for further investigation.

After consulting Animal Control and the reptile coordinator for the Greenville Zoo, investigators said they determined that Dutton, and his wife, Rebecca, did not have a license, permit or certificates to possess the venomous snakes, nor did they have proper housing for the snakes placing their 3-year old and 2-month old children at unreasonable risk.

On the day that the snakes were seized, Dan Dutton said, "We didn't know that they were illegal to have here. We were told that if we weren't in the city, they were fine but if we were in the city they were illegal."

Dutton said he kept the snakes as pets, but also as part of a business.

The Duttons were arrested on Tuesday, each on two counts of child neglect.

According to Master Deputy Laura Campbell, the Duttons were released on $6,000 each personal recognizance bonds. She said the judge ruled that the Duttons could keep custody of the children, because the snakes were the main danger to them, and the snakes have been removed. Dennis Gowan, the Dutton's landlord, told News 4 that the couple transferred custody of the children to a friend before the arrest.

Campbell said the judge ordered the Duttons to go through a Department of Social Services safety program if DSS asks them to.

If convicted, the Duttons face up to 20 years in prison.

Gowan, who keeps snakes of his own, said the children were never allowed to touch the snake containers.

"They were way out of (the 3-year-old's) reach, because they were well above 4 feet off the ground," Gowan said.

"They've got busloads of people that will go to court and testify that they're not bad parents, you know, not neglectful parents either," Gowan said.

Source: http://www.wistv.com/story/18308336/greenville-area-couple-arrested-for-snakes-in-home

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