UPDATE: Simply Country manager pleads no contest in animal cruelty case | TheUnion.com

UPDATE: Simply Country manager pleads no contest in animal cruelty case

Simply Country General Manager Nicholas Chittock on Wednesday pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in his animal cruelty case, ending the prosecution against him.

Chittock pleaded to failing to maintain facilities used to keep animals in a sanitary condition and was sentenced to a year's probation.

Presiding over the plea, Judge Robert Tice-Raskin ordered Chittock to follow the recommendations of a doctor of poultry science, who Chittock hired. He also must allow authorities to ensure animals he owns are treated humanely, pay investigation costs and almost $600 in fines.

Chittock and his attorney, Greg Klein, declined to comment.

"I'm content with the resolution," Deputy District Attorney Ed Grubaugh said. "I feel like some people have very strong opinions about this case."

The accusations against Chittock surfaced in early November. Authorities said he deprived a piglet and birds of necessary sustenance and shelter, charging him with a felony count of animal cruelty. The accusations stemmed from the discovery of about 300 birds, and 58 dead ones, at the Simply Country in Rough and Ready.

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About 20 live parakeets went to Sammie's Friends, said Cheryl Wicks, that organization's co-founder, who attended Wednesday's hearing.

"I don't consider myself an animal extremist," Wicks said. "I know people eat meat. All animals should be treated respectfully, no matter what the end result is."

The case drew sharp boundary lines in the community. Managing a family business in operation for decades, Chittock last week saw supporters crowd a courtroom and hallway. Many wore buttons, displaying their support.

At that court appearance a judge scheduled a preliminary hearing for today. Wednesday was later set for a felony conference. Attorneys told Tice-Raskin on Wednesday they'd reached a resolution.

"He's frankly never had a traffic ticket," Klein said of his client's lack of criminal history.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.