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Charges Filed Over Horse Neglect

Updated: Monday, February 10 2014, 10:16 AM CST

Viewers have been contacting us about what they believe is a case of animal neglect near Dawson.

Neighbors tell us they have been supplying a pony with feed and water, and that the owners only come out once or twice or week.

This isn't the first time we visited this property. Back in November, viewers alerted us to the plight of another horse here, that had apparently died of starvation and neglect.

"It just sickens me to think that we live in a society like this," said neighbor Diane Burnett. "For this to happen and nothing can be done about it."

Several neighbors told us the horse had gotten so hungry it was eating the bark off nearby trees, and they began to worry about the animals that remain.

"I have to live right down the road and see this, every day," said Burnett. "Worry if they're going to get fed, if they're going to get sheltered, or anything. This should not be in our little community out here."

So some of them began to bring feed and water to take care of the other animals.

"I'm concerned that these animals are going to starve to death," said another neighbor, Terry Gaddis. "We've already seen what happens."

Neighbors say they've contacted a multitude of agencies to do something, from the Department of Agriculture to the Sangamon County Sheriff's office.

"Well I get real emotional about stuff like that," said Gaddis. "It really hurts my heart."

Investigations can take quite a bit of time, but Sangamon County State's Attorney John Milhiser tells us his office takes these types of cases very seriously.

"Many of us have animals, know people that have animals. They need to be treated humanely, and the law recognizes that," said Milhiser. "And if they're not, then these individuals are going to be prosecuted."

So in this case, his office has charged the owner with three counts of a Class B Misdemeanor.

"The law provides various things that an owner has to do, owner's duties," said Milhiser. "One is to provide adequate shelter, and the law actually states quality and quantity of food, and also to provide humane treatment. Those three separate counts have been filed against this individual."

That information is welcome news to the neighbors who have been feeding and caring for the pony.

"That's good," said neighbor Cheryl Sator. "That's what she deserves. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it goes. I wouldn't even keep a dog out in this weather. My animals are all in the house."

We spoke with the owner of the horse, Rachael Hill, by phone. She told us the Department of Agriculture had just visited the property and said their animals are fine.

She added that the horse that died was sick when she got it.

When we first visited the property, we knocked on the door of the trailer and heard multiple dogs barking inside.

Neighbors tells us no one lives in the trailer, and they don't believe it has electricity or heat.

Milhiser tells us the charges stem from horse that died in November. But he said there is still an ongoing investigation about the animals that are still here.

Charges Filed Over Horse Neglect

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