Texas officials arrested quarter horse breeders Herman and Kathleen Hoffman Wednesday night. Both are charged with three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
More than 175 horses, cows and goats have been seized in place on the Hoffmans’ property, according to Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant. He says the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and veterinarians are assessing the condition of the animals. About 25 horses were moved to the SPCA’s facility for immediate care.
Authorities say they’ve found starving, injured, and neglected horses on the Hoffman property. Those that have been demanding action say they have been telling officials for more than nine months about those very issues. So what took so long for officials to act? And how many animals were allowed to suffer and die in the process?
A veterinarian was brought in to inspect the horses’ conditions in the last six months, according to Grant. It was the catalyst for the Hoffmans’ arrests and the seizure of the animals, he says. The veterinarian previously thought the animals were in “reasonably good condition.”
“They weren’t thriving,” Grant tells Rate My Horse PRO, “but they were acceptable from a legal stand point.” Grant says when the veterinarian returned this week some of the animals’ conditions changed.
Rate My Horse PRO first reported the allegations surrounding the horses’ poor conditions at Premium Star Ranch in October 2014. The Hoffmans not only breed quarter horses, but are also the operators of Calico Dairy, a raw to retail dairy.
Montgomery County Precinct 5 Chief Deputy Constable David Wood told us last fall that his department’s investigation had been on-going for months. Wood said he was doing “the best thing for the horses, according to his livestock officers.”
It was at that time we questioned why the department wasn’t utilizing a veterinarian to examine the horses as a part of the investigation. He explained they would get a complaint, talk to the owner, and check the animals again. Except a livestock officer was making the follow-up checks on the horses — not a licensed veterinarian.
The Hoffmans would be given a warning and a deadline for them to have a veterinarian check the animals in question. The horses in questionable condition would allegedly disappear, according to former employees.
We contacted Foti Kallergis of ABC-13 news team after learning he captured exclusive video of a horse with an obviously injured leg, barely able to walk. Kallergis turned over the video to authorities, which we confirmed with Wood. It was also not enough for authorities to take action last fall.
The news station aired the video of the horse with the injured leg after the raid on the Hoffman farm.
When asked about why the initial investigation did not include a veterinarian, Grant said he could not comment since it did not involve his department.
In the late fall, Rate My Horse PRO continued to follow-up on the investigation. Wood stopped answering Rate My Horse PRO’s calls and calls reportedly made by members of the public.
Our calls to Assistant County Attorney Stuart Hughes were also not returned.
And our repeated attempts to reach Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon, who is now leading the seizure, also went unanswered.
Grant says additional charges, including felonies, may be brought against the Hoffmans based upon the evidence that is found on the scene. Officials remain at the property night-and-day to ensure the crime scene is not disturbed.
Both Hoffmans posted bond and were released from jail on Thursday, but are not permitted to return to the farm.
Stay with Rate My Horse PRO for more regarding this developing story.