Horse neglect gets couple jail time

TEMECULA – A Riverside County Superior Court judge Friday, June 24, sentenced a Temecula-area couple convicted of animal cruelty resulted in jail time and no horse ownership for years.

The couple, Charity Wilson, 56 and Daryl Williams, 51, were convicted of animal cruelty charges in May for a horse-neglect case dating to the summer of 2013.

A jury found Wilson guilty of felony animal cruelty May 6. For Wilson, the conviction resulted in the mandate that she cannot own a horse for 10 years. In addition, she received a 120-day jail term. Williams was found guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty and is not allowed to own a horse for five years. He received a 90-day jail term.

The couple’s custody terms will be served through the county’s work release program, per court records.

Riverside County Animal Services Sgt. Lesley Huennekens investigated the couple after a complaint was received about a skinny horse with a skin condition. Huennekens visited the horse, Aug. 14, 2013, at a property in the 44000 block of De Portola Road in the unincorporated area of Temecula.

“I observed an emaciated chestnut-colored Arabian mare in a corral,” Huennekens wrote in her declaration in support of an arrest warrant. “I could see her spine, hip bones and rib cage. Her entire body was covered with a severe skin ailment causing hair loss, crusty patches of skin and stocking (swelling) up in her hind legs.”

Two days later, Riverside County Animal Services served the couple with a notice of violation that mandated the horse get examined by a veterinarian. At one point, after another visit to the property in late August 2013, Wilson told Huennekens, “I am treating it myself.”

Ultimately, the horse was relocated and proper veterinary records were never supplied to Riverside County. The horse was later found in October 2013 at a Winchester property and Riverside County seized the horse. The seizure was later ruled justified by a hearing officer.

On Oct. 24, the horse was humanely euthanized and transported to a state lab for testing. The horse was diagnosed with pemphigus foliaceus, an autoimmune disease. The horse was described as being in poor nutritional condition with a body score of 3.5 out of 9. The lab report indicated that her poor body condition was likely due to, at least in part, a consequence of the severe, often pruritic (itchy) and/or painful skin disease.

“We are pleased with the judge’s sentencing,” Huennekens said. “This couple never considered what was best for this poor horse. They tried to hide the horse from us – but we found her. Ending her suffering was a humane act, and seeing her abusers get convicted was a just conclusion to this sad case.”

Riverside County Chief Veterinarian Dr. Allan Drusys called the neglect case highly egregious. “It was a shame that this horse went so long without medical care and deteriorated to the state where it needed to be euthanized,” Dr. Drusys said.

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