by PAT RAIA
A Brooksville woman is facing at least three counts of animal cruelty after the remains of a foal and a puppy were discovered on her property. Three adult horses allegedly in various stages of malnutrition were also found there.
The investigation into the animals’ condition began after the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) received several reports of possible animal neglect at 27003 Rochelle Road in Brooksville.
According to HCSO Community Relations Manager Denise M. Moloney, personnel from the Office’s Animal Enforcement Office (AEO) attempted to cultivate a working relationship with the property’s owner Jessica Wilson in order to monitor the conditions of four adult horses and a recently born foal that were located there.
Initially, Wilson cooperated with the investigation by maintaining sporadic contact with investigators, and by calling her veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Quatman to provide care for the animals.
Wilson later refused to speak with AEO personnel or to allow them onto her property, Moloney said.
“Over the course of the investigation, it became clear that Wilson either was failing to follow veterinary care instructions or was purposely neglecting her animals,” she said.
According to HCSO investigators, during that time the condition of the four adult horses continued to deteriorate, and that a foal born on the property was allegedly never seen to walk or thrive.
After the veterinarian reported that she was not permitted access to the animals for at least eight weeks, AEO investigators obtained a search warrant for Wilson’s property.
Acting on that warrant, Deputies and AEO personnel accompanied by an equine veterinarian discovered three adult horses in various stages of malnutrition. The remains of the fourth horse, an approximately 8-week-old foal and a small puppy were discovered in a shallow grave on the property.
The allegedly malnourished horses were seized by the HCSO and transported to a rescue for treatment. The remains of the foal and puppy were taken to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine where a necropsy will determine the cause of their deaths.
Wilson was arrested and charged with three counts of Criminal Animal Cruelty. More charges may follow, Moloney said.
A hearing has been slated to determine if Wilson is fit to own animals in Florida.
The case remains pending.