Equine rescue owner unhappy that neglected horses returned to owners
The owner of a local equine rescue is unhappy that most of the 18 horses seized from a Salem Township boarding facility in December have been returned to their original owners after the filing of animal cruelty charges in the case.
Tricia Terry, who took care of the horses and nursed them back to health, said her facility has spent somewhere between $10,000 and $13,000 caring for them since their seizure. She worries that she will never get adequate restitution.
She said the owners should have had to pay restitution before getting the animals back.
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
She’s frustrated that the horses went back to the same owners who neglected them. She said she offered to waive restitution if the horses were relinquished to her so she could find better homes for them.
“It’s been really disappointing. We spent a lot of time and energy and money into caring for these horses, and it ended up that people who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty ended up with three months of free boarding.”
Three horses remain at Terry’s Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Scio Township, where they were taken after the seizure. Owners relinquished two of the horses, and one other horse is still there on a temporary basis.
Two of the 18 horses had to be euthanized, one that had multiple health issues and one after being injured during transportation from Starry Skies to its new facility.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley seized the horses in early December after finding them in varying stages of neglect at the Double Diamond boarding facility in Salem Township. The facility merely provides space for owners to rent, Humane Society cruelty investigator Matt Schaecher said at the time. It was the responsibility of owners to care for their animals, he said.
In order to get the horses back, the owners had to agree to house them at a full-service boarding facility inspected and approved by the Humane Society of Huron Valley, said Steve Hiller, Washtenaw County chief deputy assistant prosecutor. The horses were returned last month, he said.
Hiller said the horses will be monitored as the case proceeds and during any court-ordered probation, and the prosecutor's office will seek reimbursement for Terry.
"We’re going to be trying to make sure that she gets restitution for the services that she provides," he said.
Two of the owners have pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges and two others have been arraigned, Hiller said.
Cases are pending against two other owners, Schaecher said.
Sarah Hundley, 42, Detroit, pleaded guilty to a charge of cruelty to an animal and faces sentencing March 27, Hiller said. She had originally been charged with cruelty to two to three animals but, under an agreement with the prosecutor’s office, was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge.
Joe Leflore, 58, Detroit, also pleaded guilty to cruelty to an animal and faces sentencing March 27, Hiller said.
Durrell Montgomery, 27, of Westland, is charged with cruelty to two to three animals, Hiller said. His next court appearance is April 4.
Anthony Crummie, 32, of Detroit faces one charge of cruelty to an animal and is also scheduled to appear in court April 4.
Cruelty to an animal is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. A judge can also order the defendant to perform up to 100 hours of community service.
Cruelty to two to three animals is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000. A judge can also order up to 300 hours of community service.