The director of a Texas horse rescue is facing multiple felonies after an animal cruelty investigation led authorities to discover dead and emaciated horses at a Livingston property. Polk County Sheriff Deputies seized more than two dozen horses last week from Second Chance Horses operated by Constance (Connie) Roxana Lashmet.
Lashmet and her husband, James Lashmet, were arrested days after the seizure for the improper disposal of dead horses’ bodies. At this time, it is not known how the horses died. Both posted bond the same day and were released from jail.
Neighbors report there were up to 80 horses on the property at times and some were dying, laying in the fields.
Patricia Reynolds, the property owner, said she witnessed one horse she thought was dead until it lifted its head as she got closer.
Authorities said in a statement Lashmet operates a horse transportation, quarantine and boarding business known as Second Chance Quarantine, although no such business is registered with the state of Texas. The Lashmets are reportedly paid by third-parties to purchase horses at auction. They then quarantine them for 30-days at which time the horses are supposed to be delivered to their new owners.
A judge awarded the 25 horses, 5 donkeys, 2 dogs, and a pig to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department after a seizure hearing on Friday. The sheriff’s department states it intends to reunite the animals with any third-party buyers.
Officials seized another 5 emaciated horses from a Moscow property used by the Lashmets. A judge awarded those to the sheriff’s office as well. Authorities say they will maintain custody of the animals through the appeals process.
Lashmet, who also goes by the name Connie Roxana, established the horse rescue Second Chance Horses in January 2015. Lashmet, Stacy Pipkin, and Amy Whitaker are listed as directors of Second Chance Horses, according to the Texas filing. The rescue is listed with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charity.
Whitaker says she is outraged by the situation and tells us she resigned from her position on May 25 via a text message to Lashmet, who responded. “I would have been the first to have spoken out had I known anything was amiss.”
Pipkin reportedly quit her post in October, but was unable to be reached for comment.
Screenshots taken from the Facebook page of Second Chance Horses shows the rescue actively soliciting donations as recently as September, although the page is now deactivated.
One post regarding a horse rescued named Kennedy says the group raised $2500 for his care. The horse suffered a horrible leg injury to the bone. Second Chance Horses pleads for additional funds saying,
“So, like many other rescues we are left with a large vet bill and have to worry about it while caring for many others…”
Rate My Horse PRO has confirmed that Kennedy was among the 25 seized horses and is receiving on-going treatment for his lacerated leg (after seizure).
This isn’t the first time Connie Lashmet has been in trouble with the law. She was arrested in August for parent contributing to non attendance. Charges have not been filed in the case, according to the clerk of the court.
Lashmet pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny in Oslow, North Carolina last month, according to court documents. She was sentenced to community punishment, one-year unsupervised probation, and she can not go to the area Wal-Mart for a year. She was charged in 2012.
Lashmet also pleaded guilty in 2013 to worthless check a fourth or subsequent offense. She was sentenced to community service.
Prior to donating or affiliating with any non-profit or 501(c)(3) horse rescue, Rate My Horse PRO offers these three tips to help you from getting scammed by one of these groups that pull at your heart strings.
– thoroughly research the background of those operating the entity
– the internet is a great tool for information, but stay local when it comes to rescuing horses – a visit to the property can be an eye opening experience
– if you’re not a experienced horse person, educate yourself before getting involved and helping
A property hearing is scheduled for Thursday, December 3 at 2 p.m. Those who purchased horses are encouraged to appear with proof of ownership. Any horses not claimed will be re-homed with a non-profit, according to authorities. Contact the sheriff’s department for additional information.