Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4975
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: horse
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Monday, Jun 20, 2005

County: Rockingham

Disposition: Not Charged
Case Images: 1 files available

Person of Interest: Heather Mackenzie

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

No animal cruelty charges will be brought against a local resident whose two horses were found to be more than 200 pounds underweight, but police are taking the opportunity to remind people to seek help if they cannot properly care for their animals.

Newton Police received a report on June 20 of two horses that had lost a large amount of weight over the winter and were not being cared for by their owner, who lives on Crane Crossing Road.

Animal Control Officer Kim Mears said she and Police Chief Larry Streeter investigated the report and found the horses - one 21-year-old Arabian mare and a 3-year-old Gelding - to both be 200 to 250 pounds underweight.

"It was scary when we got there," said Mears. "But we did get to them in time, thank God."

Mears said the animals were not beaten, but there was very little food and they had obviously been neglected. She also said a fungus had formed on their backs from being out in the rain too long.

The horses were taken to a nearby farm where they were fed and given medical treatment. Mears then found permanent homes for them after the owner voluntarily released them, which she said played a role in the decision not to press charges.

"We didn't think there was malicious neglect or intent and we didn't feel criminal charges were warranted," said Streeter, adding that it is more difficult to determine whether a larger animal is being underfed than smaller ones.

Both animals are expected to make a full recovery.

Mears said she is thankful a neighbor thought to call the police and encouraged anyone who suspects an animal is being neglected to do the same.

"I'd rather have people call me to make sure it's nothing," said Mears. "People need to ask for help when they can't take care of their animals."

Steve Sprowl, animal cruelty investigator for the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA), said there are dozens of agencies that provide free help for every kind of animal. He said the NHSPCA can make suggestions and provide help to owners having difficulties taking care of their pets.

"There's plenty of places you can go," said Sprowl. "But to let your animal starve because you can't feed them is wrong and against the law."

He said the NHSPCA is always willing to work with people and take the animal if need be, but people should not be embarrassed to ask for assistance.

"Just don't let it get to the point where the animal needs serious medical help," said Sprowl. "As embarrassing as it may be to ask for help, it would be much more embarrassing if we had to knock on their door asking about animal cruelty."

Case Updates

The woman whose two horses were confiscated for neglect in late June is facing animal cruelty charges after police say she left her 2-year-old yellow Labrador chained to her porch in 90-degree weather without water or shelter, which resulted in its death.

Heather Mackenzie, 19, of 20 Crane Crossing Road, was charged with animal cruelty - a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,200 fine - after police received a call from a neighbor who said the dog was lying still on the porch and was left outside on a hot day without water or shelter.

Police responded and found the dog had died.

Animal Control Officer Kim Mears said Mackenzie told her the dog hanged itself with its chain leash when it fell off the porch, but an autopsy revealed it died from what was basically a heat stroke.

"Its brain temperature was so high it couldn't be measured," said Mears.

The dog was chained to a small porch attached to the house, according to Mears, in the middle of a day when the temperature ranged between 85 and 90 degrees. Mears said the dog was left in direct sunlight and was barking loudly while Mackenzie was inside.

In late June, police said they considered charging Mackenzie with animal cruelty after they found her two horses - a 21-year-old Arabian mare and a 3-year-old gelding - to both be 200 to 250 pounds underweight and with a fungus on their back from being out in the rain too long.

"We didn't press charges because it was not malicious, just neglect," said Mears. "This was definitely malicious. Even a child would know to bring the dog in ... We're just not going to allow it in this town."

Police Chief Larry Streeter said the autopsy also found bruising on the dog's chest. He said the bruises were caused by Mackenzie's knee, which she allegedly used to stop the dog from jumping on her and contributed to the decision to charge her with animal cruelty.

"It doesn't happen on two occasions to the same person in that amount of time without raising some suspicions," said Streeter. "The information we received in the investigation ... along with bruising on the chest drew us to the conclusion that there was obvious abuse."

Police said the dog was well fed and had all its vaccinations, which indicates it was generally taken care of.

Mears said Mackenzie's grandmother also lives at the home and was at work the day of the incident. She said the grandmother had no knowledge that the dog was chained to the porch.

All of the other animals found in the home, which include a guinea pig, a ferret and a two gecko lizards, were voluntarily given to Mears and were healthy, she said. Mears said she advised Mackenzie not to obtain anymore animals until the charges are resolved in court.

Streeter said Mackenzie is scheduled for arraignment at Plaistow District Court on Sept. 19.

The incident with the horses occurred on June 20 and was also reported to police by a neighbor. Both horses found new homes and are expected to make a full recovery.
Source: Rockingham News - Aug 12, 2005
Update posted on Aug 13, 2005 - 12:56PM 


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