Couple plead guilty to animal cruelty, avoid jail time

SOMERVILLE, Tenn. — A prominent former Collierville couple pleaded guilty Monday morning to animal cruelty charges.

Circuit Judge Weber McCraw sentenced Drs. William Parr and his Peruvian wife, Ricio Parr, to six years probation, a $50,000 fine and restitution. The first year the Parrs will be under intensive supervision similar to house arrest. In addition, the Parrs were ordered to not have any pets or animals for 20 years.

The Parrs pleaded guilty to three felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty. The remaining 122 misdemeanor counts were dropped for their guilty plea.

The couple who now live in a Southeast Shelby County apartment were ordered to pay $3,000 each for the three felony counts for a total of $18,000. They were also ordered to pay $32,000 in restitution to the various agencies that rescued, cared and placed more than 100 animals at the Moscow, Tenn., home.

During a 14-hour raid last September, 168 dogs, cats, rabbits, pigeons, doves, gerbils, a canary, ferrets, and hamsters were confiscated from the Parrs’ Moscow home.

Two minor children were also taken from the home. As a part of the arrangement, the 13-year-old son will be returned to the couple on a trial basis until a court hearing in October. An older sibling is now 18 and still under state juvenile care.

A Fayette County grand jury indicted the couple in March on three felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 122 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

During a 30-minute court proceeding, their defense attorney Mark McDaniel said his clients were “good, moral and compassionate people” but Mrs. Parr suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. Her husband has depression and anxiety. The court ordered Mrs. Parr to continue receiving mental health treatment.

“They felt like they were rescuing animals but somehow it mushroomed to what it mushroomed into,” McDaniel said.

Mrs. Parr who held a rosary in her right hand, told the judge, “We have many pains. In my heart, I never intended to do any harm to them.”

The guilty plea took longer than usual because Mrs. Parr had numerous questions of the judge and also of her attorney.

At one point, Parr said, “I will do what I can to keep her going and keep me going. I understand it got out of hand. I’m sorry.”

It charges that the couple on or about Sept. 17 in a depraved and sadistic manner tortured two dogs and a cat by failing to give them the necessary food, water and care. All three died.

In the initial complaint, juvenile officer Katie Logan said she could smell a bad odor from the driveway.

After Parr allowed Logan and another officer inside the home, they discovered kennels stacked on top of each other all over the kitchen and laundry room. Calling the smell unbearable, Logan reported, “House is not livable for animals or humans.”

Dr. Jennifer Dunlap, a Somerville veterinarian, called the raid the worst case of animal cruelty that she had ever seen.

In 2004, Collierville Animal Service Director Nina Wingfield said she got a complaint that the couple were hoarding animals at their Collierville home. “We went to property, and the property was vacant,” she said.

After leaving Collierville where his parents were lifelong residents, Parr, 69, and his wife, 48, moved to nearby Moscow in Fayette County.

According to their attorney, Parr is a retired dentist and doctor. Mrs. Parr also is a doctor. Both are not in practice.

Parr is the son of the late longtime Collierville dentist William Dean Parr and his late wife, Elizabeth. His parents amassed a fortune in Collierville real estate.

The Parr family trust owns more than 200 acres in farm land, commercial and residential holdings valued at $8.2 million based on Shelby County Tax Assessor records.

Wingfield, who was not involved in the Parr case in Fayette County, has had experience in dealing with people who hoard animals.

“We are creating hoarders in our rescue groups,” Wingfield said. Oftentimes, she added, “They don’t have the resources or the place to care for them.”

“Hoarders that we’ve worked with have such a fear of ethunasia. They believe that if they don’t rescue these animals, they will be killed. In their minds, they were rescuing animals.”

In the 1990s, Wingfield said the typical hoarding case involved unmarried, well-educated women who hoarded cats. “We didn’t see dogs being hoarded.”