Horse owner charged with cruelty

The palomino and a young by mare have died of complications from starvation, veterinarian Michelle Milton said. Photo by Kevin Cox

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

rescue4GALVESTON – A man charged with neglecting his six horses so badly that two died should go to jail to teach others a lesson, the president of a horse rescue organization said Wednesday.

“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.”

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
  • I am sorry Jerry, but ignorance is not an excuse !!!!! the Man Has eyes doesnt he??? couldnt he see that those Horses were starving, if you dont feed a living being they will die, he didnt know that much?????? Pity is for those who make the conscience effort !!!!

    January 16, 2014
  • Maggie Frazier

    I agree with Arlene. I assume this man rented the barn from the owner & was responsible for the care of his horses? But even saying that, why didn’t the barn owner report this – these animals weren’t only “not looking well” – they were dying! Too many people want to own a horse (or dog or cat) but have no idea what it entails to care for them. Crying doesn’t make up for what happened to these babies (because that’s what they were) No way.

    January 16, 2014
  • Sue

    ” The sixth horse had escaped from its stall and was grazing in a pasture and being fed by neighbors, he said.”

    I assume this is the horse he’s permitted to keep? I also wonder why the neighbors didn’t call AC to report the neglect.

    January 16, 2014
  • I read in a previous article that the owner said he was feeding the horses every other day and that he had stalled them so they would gain weight. He probably put them in stalls so no one could see what bad shape there were in is my opinion. He should be put in a tiny box and fed just every other day and see how long it takes him to lose weight and get sick. Those poor things probably didn’t have any water either. Why was he allowed to keep 1 horse? Those horses were probably crying every day and they got no sympathy til HFH and the vets got to them.

    January 16, 2014