A Washington State couple are charged with animal cruelty following the death of one of their miniature horses. On Friday, June 14, the Tacoma News Tribune reported that John William Brooks and Valaree Marie Simpson were charged with animal cruelty in the first degree for allegedly allowing one of their miniature horses to die of neglect.
According to the News Tribune, neighbors in the 1100 block of 97th St. E. called animal control officers over concerns about two miniature horses and an emaciated horse who was lying in the mud.
An animal control officer visited the property on May 28 and asked the man, aged 44, to see the horses. The animal control officer first saw an emaciated horse and tried to provide advice for improving the horse’s condition.
When the animal control officer examined the miniature horses, he discovered that help had come too late for one of the animals. The miniature horse was already dead in the barn.
The charging documents stated that the couple claimed that they took the miniature horses out of the barn once every several days. According to court records, they fed the horses that morning.
According to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office, charging documents stated:
John William Brooks, on or about the 28th day of May, 2013, did unlawfully, feloniously, and with criminal negligence, starve, dehydrate or suffocate an animal and, as a result, cause substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering or death, contrary to RCW 16.52.205(2), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Washington…
…VALAREE MARIE SIMPSON, acting as an accomplice, in the State of Washington, on or about the 28th day of May, 2013, did unlawfully, feloniously, and with criminal negligence starve, dehydrate or suffocate an animal and, as a result, cause substantial and unjustifiable physical pain that extends for a period sufficient to cause considerable suffering or death, contrary to RCW 16.52.205(2), and against the peace and dignity of the State of Washington.
…On or about the 28th day of May, 2013, the defendants, VALAREE MARIE SIMPSON and JOHN WILLIAM BROOKS, did, with criminal neglect, allow a mini horse in their care to perish.
A necropsy showed the following:
“… the deceased mini had significant wave mouth (lack of proper dental care leads to a condition that impedes a horses ability to feed).
The animal also had a significant lice problem that was severe enough to have caused the horse to self mutilate. There was a complete absence of abdominal fat, signifying that the horse had consumed its own fat in an effort to survive.
With regard to the surviving mini, Dr. Chadim noted that there was no evidence of hay on the ground – in other words, no sign of recent feeding.”
Prosecutors noted that the couple has been cooperative with the investigation and are trying to improve care for the surviving horses.
The charging documents further state:
Based on the examination of the surviving horses, additional counts of Animal Cruelty in the Second Degree could be brought. However, SIMPSON and BROOKS have continued to cooperate with Animal Control Officers regarding the surviving horses, arguing against filing charges unrelated to the deceased mini.
Kelly Kelstrup with the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office Stated: “Co-defendants Brooks and Simpson have an arraignment date of June 27 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 270 (CD2).”
Miniature horses are often mistaken for ponies, but they are, in fact, horses. Horses registered with the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) do not exceed 34 inches at the withers.
Miniature horses are friendly, engaging animals that love to interact with people. They are often kept as family pets and many have been trained as service animals.
Seattle Pets Examiner will continue to provide updates to this story as they occur.
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