By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MIDDLETOWN - A Madison Township woman appeared Monday in Middletown Municipal Court on 25 counts of animal cruelty after horses she owns were found dead and emaciated.
Marla Hatmaker, 42, is accused of failing to properly care for 25 animals: 19 live horses, four dead ones and two goats, said Renee Jeffries, a Butler County deputy dog warden.
Hatmaker's next court appearance is April 24. Neither she nor her attorney, Theodore Repper Jr., could be reached for comment Monday. Animal cruelty is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The case began last Wednesday with a person reporting one horse possibly dead and "several thin horses in need of help" at a farm in the 4600 block of Trenton-Franklin Road, Madison Township, Jeffries said.
When Jeffries first investigated, she said she saw six horses, including one that had died and three that were "extremely thin." Jeffries learned that Hatmaker, who lives at another farm on the same road, was the owner.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Donations are being accepted for the care of 19 horses and two goats removed from Madison Township in an alleged animal cruelty case.
Contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to: |
Animal Friends Humane Society
5225 Trenton Road
Trenton, Ohio 45067
Jeffries, who also is a humane officer for the Animal Friends Humane Society, gave Hatmaker a warning and ordered her to obtain veterinary care for the animals within 24 hours.
But on Friday, two days later, Jeffries went to both properties, armed with a search warrant. She said two more horses were dead and another one was so gravely ill that it had to be euthanized. After that, humane authorities removed the survivors, 19 horses and two goats.
Four of the horses were critically ill and 15 were in "fair-to-good" condition, Jeffries said; one goat was doing OK, but the other seemed to have some health problems.
Jeffries said the humane society has been court-ordered to arrange for care of the animals until further notice, and has already incurred significant expenses.
Glenna Carroll, shelter manager for Animal Friends, said several boarders are caring for the horses and goats - and boarding fees will run $3,350 a month for the horses alone. Cost for boarding the goats - and for veterinary care for the animals - was not immediately available.
Carroll, who has been working with humane organizations in Butler County since 1986, said this is one of the area's largest animal seizures she could recall in an alleged cruelty case.
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