Authorities in Florida have charged two people with several counts stemming from an animal cruelty investigation in which a horse taken into care was described as being in skeletal condition.
Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office say they have evidence that the California-based owner of a thoroughbred named Dixie Boy had paid the arrested pair $US1200 to care for him.
Deputies arrested a man, 28, and a woman, 24, in Lakeland on Monday.
According to the affidavits in the case, the pair had been paid since 2011 by the horse’s owner to care for Dixie Boy. Deputies said Dixie Boy’s owner has provided them with copies of checks paid to the pair totaling over $US1200 for his care.
Dixie Boy was found at the property on April 24 in a “skeletal state”, deputies said, and was allegedly confined in a fenced compound without enough food or water.
The suspects told deputies they had taken Dixie Boy to the vet a week prior, but the deputies were able to prove otherwise. The horse was turned over to the deputies at that time.
During the ongoing investigation, deputies located several other horses and animals on the property that they alleged were not being given proper care.
Deputies seized a total of 19 horses, one of which was emaciated, dehydrated and in distress. That horse died at the scene while being treated by a veterinarian.
Deputies also seized a dog, a cat, a kitten, 14 snakes, two iguanas, an African grey parrot, and a lovebird. All of the animals are under the care of the sheriff’s office animal control division.
Authorities have ordered a necropsy on the dead horse.
Dixie Boy was handed over to Hope Equine Rescue in Auburndale for rehabilitation and has since gained 91 pounds.
During a search of the house at the property, deputies located a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s badge. The male suspect allegedly told deputies he stole it while visiting a friend whose husband is a Hillsborough deputy sheriff.
The man has been arrested on one count of petty theft, one count of felony animal cruelty and 45 counts of confining an animal without sufficient food and water.
The woman has been arrested on one count of perjury, one count of grand theft, one count of felony animal cruelty and 45 counts of confining an animal without sufficient food and water.
People can donate to his care here.