After being rescued, this mare was euthanized and a criminal investigation began leading to the charges.
Updated October 11, 2013
A judge ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania boarding stable owner after she was accused of not feeding several horses enough food. Maria Ludwig Hayes was found not guilty of five counts of animal cruelty on Tuesday.
Charges were filed after a boarder’s horse was euthanized in February. Cpl. Corey Wetzel said he began his investigation after he was contacted by the treating veterinarian.
A necropsy done by New Bolton states the horse suffered from emaciation. “No underlying disease process is detected. Malnutrition is the most likely cause of emaciation.”
Hayes’ attorney, William Kreisher, tells us the mare was rescued from the “kill pen” two months prior to her death. “She had underlying conditions and was unable to thrive or gain weight.”
The mare, when she was purchased from the kill pen, in November 2012 (left). The mare prior to being euthanized in 2013 (right). See additional photos from the court record below.
Hayes said it has been a long 7 months. “…I’m thankful that the justice system worked, but saddened that someone I trusted the care of my animals with would fail me and them.”
About 40 horses live at Frosty Oaks Stables. At the time of the investigation, Hayes states 10 were owned by boarders. The court heard testimony in favor of the defendant from some of those who utilize the stable’s boarding services. Hayes also breeds ponies, Cleveland Bay Sporthorses, and offers horseback riding lessons.
Wetzel wasn’t only the investigator, he also “prosecuted” the case, since it was a summary trial. While some cases might get an assistant district attorney, this one did not. He said, “I’m obviously disappointed, but will respect it.”
Veterinarian Dr. Lise Lund, who visited the farm prior to the hearing, served as a defense witness regarding the farm’s feeding, segregation practices, shelter, and the physical condition of the horses.
Magisterial District Judge Craig Long said, “I didn’t think the Commonwealth had enough to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“They failed to establish neglect. The other four horses had peculiarities, medical problems, and explanations for why they were thin,” said Kreisher. He pointed out the condition of the remaining horses on the property was never questioned by authorities.
Hayes tells us, “…I am relieved and now will be able to move on doing the things I’ve always done, enjoying my farm and my family.”