by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A group of protesters showed up outside the Montgomery County Courts Center before a court hearing for a man and woman charged with animal cruelty.
The couple was arrested after dead dogs were found inside their home.
Dozens of people with props and signs stood in a line along the sidewalk.
“I'm just an animal lover. Just thinking what they go through, you know the pain, the suffering, starving and they don't know why,” protester Lourdes Potter said tearfully.
Eric and Nicole Hulbig did not appear in court Friday morning, but attorneys went before the judge who set a trial date for August 28.
Investigators said a representative of Bill Mace Home Builders found four decomposing puppies at the estranged couple’s home on Henderson Way in the Patrick Place subdivision in Clarksville on June 5.
Eric Hulbig, age 22, was arrested that day, and an arrest warrant was issued for Nicole Hulbig, age 29.
“The lady hadn't lived in that house for about six weeks,” said Cleveland Turner, Nicole Hulbig’s attorney. “She and her husband were separated. He had the four dogs. She was in Gallatin.”
Turner said his client was not responsible for the dogs and the state will have to prove how she could’ve been responsible for their death.
The investigation led authorities to check out the Sumner County property of Nicole Hulbig's mother, where she lives when she’s not in Clarksville. Sumner County deputies seized 37 dogs living in a barn, which they said were all in poor condition. Two others were found living in a utility room inside the home.
Deputies also found 37 bags of deceased dogs that were so badly decomposed it was unlikely they will ever know why they died. The number of dead was unknown.
Nicole Hulbig was then charged with eight counts of animal cruelty due to eight of the 39 living dogs being badly emaciated.
Nicole Hulbig is the founder of a nonprofit organization in Clarksville called RRR Service Dogs that claims to rescue dogs and train them for disabled soldiers or children with disabilities. She has denied wrongdoing, and blamed the dead dogs on a distemper outbreak, according to Ryan.
The investigation was ongoing.Past Story: