FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 11, 2014
Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day has released that his office has filed criminal charges against two men from the Yuma and Otis areas as a result of an investigation into reported animal cruelty/neglect involving eleven horses. On February 12, 2014 the Sheriff’s Office received a call from an investigator with the Colorado Humane Society who had been contacted by a citizen concerned about the living conditions of some horses on a rural property northwest of Yuma. Sheriff’s Office personnel responded to the scene and discovered the remains of five deceased horses along with six live horses that were severely malnourished.
Sheriff’s Deputies obtained a search warrant for the property, recovering the remains of the deceased horses. The owners of the horses were identified as Scott Foster and Rex Gunther. Both of the owners responded to the scene and were cooperative with the Sheriff’s Office in their investigation. Both Foster and Gunther expressed remorse for the condition of the horses and ultimately made the decision to voluntarily surrender the remaining horses to the Sheriff’s Office, who had them transported to the Harmony Equine Center via the Colorado Humane Society.
The remains of the deceased horses were evaluated at the Colorado State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The lab results concluded that the animals had a severely low percentage of body fat and large populations of parasites that contributed to the degraded physical condition of the horses and subsequently, their deaths.
The Sheriff’s Office also received a veterinary report from the Harmony Equine Center indicating that the surrendered horses also suffered from severe malnutrition. Three of the six horses that had been surrendered have since been euthanized due to their inability to be returned to full health.
The Sheriff’s Office has since charged Foster and Gunther each with eleven counts of Animal Cruelty/Neglect, a class 1 misdemeanor.
By statute, the County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for investigating any criminal cases that involve animals or livestock in unincorporated areas of the county where there is no municipal law enforcement. Sheriff Day commented, “The Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to investigating all manner of criminal cases that occur within the county with the same level of due diligence and care, and asks that citizens not hesitate to make such reports directly to the office by calling 332-4805. I appreciate the Colorado Humane Society’s assistance in this case, and I’m thankful for them as a resource to Yuma County.”