Arraignments moved up in horse cruelty cases 

UPDATE: The horses are not available for fostering at this time. They are safely located and being taken care of by Boyle County Animal Control workers and experienced volunteers. The horses will not be up for possible fostering or relocation until a court of law has determined the next course of action. Boyle County Animal Control appreciates everyone who has been willing to help.

 

Arraignments have been moved up for two women charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals over dead and neglected horses found recently on the farms they leased.

Melanie Logue and Jennifer Bayne-Donnell will now be arraigned 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, in Boyle County District Court.

Logue, 47, of Talmage-Mayo Road in Mercer County, is charged with 18 counts of second-degree animal cruelty and two counts of failure to dispose of carcasses within 48 hours.

Bayne-Donnell, 47, of Perryville, is charged with 23 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals.

Both women were leasing barns and lots at a farm at 4600 Harrodsburg Road in Boyle County, where starving, neglected and malnourished horses were found.

County Attorney Chris Herron said the charges are misdemeanor offenses.

Logue was arrested Feb. 19 after Kentucky State Police discovered a dead horse next to a barn when serving an eviction notice on Feb. 14. KSP alerted the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and the following Monday, animal cruelty inspectors were on the property. Another dead horse was found in a stall, and a third had to be euthanized.

While investigators were on the property, more issues were found in another barn, which Bayne-Donnell was leasing, including 16 horses found to be grossly underweight, standing in stalls filled with more than a foot of manure. Five more malnourished horses were discovered on a Faulkner Station Road farm property she was also leasing. Bayne-Donnell was arrested Feb. 21.

The county essentially “impounded” the animals, said Asst. County Attorney Patrick Barsotti.

Boyle County Animal Control is now caring for the remaining 34 horses. Forty-one horses were found, including two already dead; one that had to be euthanized; and three mustangs that have been reclaimed by the Bureau of Land Management, as part of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. One boarded horse had been returned to an owner just before the others were impounded.

Horse manure is shown after it was removed from two stalls, where horses were standing in more than foot deep of it. (File photo by Robin Hart)

The county will care for the animals indefinitely, until a judge decides what to do with them, which is why the arraignment hearings were requested to be moved up from April, Herron said.

“We have to move them somewhere else, probably — not sure how long we can maintain them there at the same place,” Herron said.

He said that “a lot of people have volunteered to take on the horses, and I don’t think (the county) will be paying for everything; the donations may end up covering it.”

Fizzy Ramsey, president of the local humane society board, said they have partnered to assist in the raising and allocating of funds, grant writing and volunteer recruitment. “The county employees have worked overtime to assure the shelter and horses are adequately cared for, but it wouldn’t be possible without volunteers.” She said the county has taken on a project which many other counties might be unequipped to handle.

Ramsey said for the immediate welfare of the horses, animal control officers Jacob Wardrip and James Good and Judge-Executive Howard Hunt “have committed to the case and project.”

She said volunteer Jessica Deering, as well as other experienced equestrians, have been “a godsend” in initiating the rehabilitation process for the remaining 34 horses.

“Having horse-knowledgeable folks and support from generous suppliers is vital in situations like this. It truly takes a village. We have been in touch with state and national organizations for further direction and additional resources. Emergency grants are in the works, but those are not immediately available, so donations and especially volunteers are crucial in the success of rehabilitating these horses.”

Barsotti said it is a concern “that we do have several animals that the county is currently providing care for, because we’ve stepped in and impounded them. For the benefit of the public and the taxpayers, it will be best to resolve … as quickly as possible.” But, he said the prosecution must be careful not to rush the process, which could “minimize the consequences.”

“We have to make sure the charges carry forward, with the appropriate punishment for this conduct. There are several different things you have to consider,” he said. “We want to deter others from doing this, have some retribution for the conduct and correct their behavior, so it doesn’t happen again. We have to try and find the sweet spot …”

He is still in the process of working through the case.

“One thing I think we will without a doubt seek is an order from the court, according to the cruelty to animals second-degree statute, that the trial court impose a condition on the defendants’ abilities to own horses moving forward,” Barsotti said. He said some of the animals may have been being boarded by the women for others.

“We’re trying to identify if there are horses out there that belong to someone else and if the true owners are also victims …” and if they are, the horses will be returned to them, he said. Which, he said, can be difficult since not all horses are registered.

Ramsey said she’s uncertain at this point, but there may only be one horse left that’s owned by someone else.

“That’s just part of the mess we’ll have to sort out here,” Barsotti said. He’s hoping the pretrial conferences will be set only two to three weeks out, “hopefully by March 17.”

Ramsey said anyone interested in assisting with cleaning and feeding can contact the humane society at (859) 238-1117 for more information. Tax deductible donations can be made online at www.dbchs.org/donate, by specifying “Horse Cruelty Case” so monies are placed in the Equine and Livestock Fund; or people can give toward the GoFundMe campaign managed by Kasey Gordon at Burkmann Nutrition to go toward discounted equipment and supplies.

Other horse-specific fundraisers will be held at Burkmann Nutrition Saturday, Feb. 29,  during operating hours and Tractor Supply next Saturday, March 7, during operating hours. Wish lists are available at both locations.