Weatherford Democrat

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August 30, 2013

Woman gets jail in horse deaths

Caretaker for nine horses that died in heat of 2011 summer draws one-year confinement

By CHRISTIN COYNE

One of two defendants in a case involving nine horses found dead or dying due to lack of water and nourishment on a property south of Weatherford in August 2011 was found guilty this week by a Parker County jury and received the maximum allowable sentence.

Caretaker Linda Pharis, 55, was convicted on nine misdemeanor charges of cruelty to livestock animals by a six-person jury.

County Court-At-Law Judge Ben Akers sentenced Pharis to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine on each conviction, the maximum sentence allowed by state law for the charges.

Akers ordered the jail sentences served concurrently and day for day, County Attorney John Forrest said. That means, minus her term previously spent in jail on the charges, Pharis will have to serve the full one-year term without accruing good-time credit and an early release.

“Judge Akers sent a message because she was not remorseful,” Forrest said.

The charges stem from the discovery of eight dead horses in a pasture in the 400 block of Old Brock Road on Aug. 12, 2011, after a neighbor alerted authorities.

Dr. Dene Herbel of Millsap Veterinary Clinic found the animals died due to lack of water and nutritional deficiency, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

One horse was reportedly found hanging on a fence, possibly caught while trying to get to a water-filled pool on the other side.

A ninth horse found alive on the property was euthanized due to organ failure and severe lack of habilitation.

The veterinarian estimated most of the horses had been dead one to three days when found.

Though there were troughs supplied by well water, they were dry and there was no vegetation in the pasture, according to court records.

The temperatures were above 100 degrees every day for more than a month and there had not been a recent rain, authorities noted at the time.

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