Two former Audrain County dog groomers appeared Sept. 18 at their first court hearing on animal abuse charges.

Taylor Haden Stout, 24, of Mexico and James Kevin Johns Jr., 23, of Rush Hill, were arrested and charged in July with the class E felony of animal abuse. The alleged crimes were committed while employed of Downtown Pet Stop in Mexico. They have no prior criminal offenses, according to court documents.

Both defendants waived reading of the charges Sept. 18 and their case has been continued to Oct. 23 to determine case disposition or setting. They will appear before Associate Circuit Judge Keith Sutherland due to the recusal of Associate Circuit Judge Linda Hamlett.

Downtown Pet Stop owner Nancy Buck called Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller after reviewing surveillance footage from the alleged July 8 incident.

Stout was reportedly seen working with a Yorkshire Terrier and recorded slamming the dog on the grooming table in an effort to control the animal, according to a statement written by Oller.

A group of area citizens held a protest Sept. 18 in support of animal rights at the Audrain County Courthouse.

During one of the alleged incidents, the dog reportedly went limp and Stout began chest compressions out of fear she had killed the dog. Johns allegedly shook the dog by the neck, pulled it by its ears and hindlegs and used his body weight to restrain the animal.

Stout and Johns were interviewed by Oller July 18 and were shown a portion of the surveillance footage. Stout reportedly told Oller that she thought the dog was having a seizure prior to being shown the surveillance footage. Johns reportedly admitted his actions would be considered abusive.