BY LEANN DILBECK –
Three Sebastian County women were convicted of eight counts of Cruelty to Animals [Ark. Code 5-62-103] in Polk County District Court Friday, August 23. according to Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jim Henderson.
Tiffany Woodard, age 31 of Alma, Kelly Burmeister age 32 of Ft. Smith, and Crystal Domerese, age 29 also of Ft. Smith, all appeared before Judge Jerry Ryan without representation. Domerese was the only one to testify.
The three had left eight horses in a 2-acre enclosure along Polk County Road 151. The Command Center received a call from a neighboring property owner who called complaining of a horse “running at large.”
Deputy Robert Hutcheson responded and found a zig-zagged enclosure defined by a solar-powered electric fence that was completely barren. The two shallow drainage holes were completely dried up. The property where the horses were fenced off was unable to be seen from the road.
Further investigation revealed one dead horse and another was alive but unresponsive. The other six were also found and in “very bad condition.”
The three women arrived on the property that day, June 15, as Hutcheson was completing his investigation. They said the land was not theirs but they had lost their lease in Sebastian County and a friend (the property owner) had told them they could move the horses to it. They told the deputy they had checked on the horses last on May 25 and 26. Hutcheson issued citations to all three and the women stated that they planned to move the horses to Ft. Smith and Roland, Oklahoma.
Since that date, three of the horses have died and none remain on that property at this time.
Henderson said that none of the three women displayed any signs of guilt or remorse while in court Friday. He said Domerese was unable to sufficiently answer any questioning regarding the proper basic care for a horse.
Henderson said the case did not qualify for felony charges. The three will be sentenced in September and face a $150 to $1,000 fine per count. They also face up to one-year in county jail for each offense and/or community service. A psychiatric or psychological evaluation is also mandated.