Jerry Finch, President of Habitat for Horses, speaks on the Texas City seizure and trial this past week. ~ HfH
From: The Houston Chronicle
By: Harvey Rice
“A little bit of jail time will give the right impression to the public, that they need to take care of their animals,” said Jerry Finch, president of Habitat for Horses in Hitchcock.
David Altamirano, 37, of Galveston, surrendered to Texas City police Tuesday after being charged with two counts of cruelty to livestock animals, Texas City Officer Randall Johnston said. If convicted, Altamirano could be fined up to $4,000 on each count and sentenced to as much as a year in jail. Altamirano was free Wednesday after posting a $4,000 bond.
Based on a complaint received by Habitat for Horses, police removed five of Altamirano’s six mixed-breed horses Jan.7 from a stable near the Kohfeldt Park riding arena, Finch said. The sixth horse had escaped from its stall and was grazing in a pasture and being fed by neighbors, he said.
“The two that died were yearlings and they were basically comatose when we got there,” Finch said. A necropsy showed the horses died of starvation, lack of care and parasites, he said.
In a hearing following Altamirano’s surrender, a justice of the peace awarded custody of the three surviving horses to Habitat for Horses. Finch said it will take about six months to nurse them back to health. Once healthy they will be offered for adoption.
The judge ordered Altamirano to pay Habitat for Horses $7,350 for veterinary costs and future care, Finch said. Altamirano was allowed to keep the sixth horse that police did not confiscate.
“I think this guy loved horses, he just did not know how to take care of them,” Finch said. “He was in court and he cried about it, but at the same time he did not actively pursue seeking help. Anybody can call a vet.”