Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pennsylvania: Animal rescuer' Christy Cunningham charged with starving horse to death

PENNSYLVANIA -- A woman involved in local animal rescue groups was charged yesterday with starving three horses, one of which died.

Christine Lynn Cunningham, 44, of 2773 Marr Road, Pulaski, has been charged with the following:

•One count of cruelty to ainmals for “willfully and intentionally” killing a horse by starvation by not feeding or taking care of it for over two months.

•21 counts of cruelty to animals for not providing the horses access to clean and sanitary shelter, not checking on their body condition for over two months, failing to provide necessary food to maintain weight and health and failing to provide veterinary care.

•Six counts of failing to have a dog license.

•Six counts of failing to vaccinate dogs against rabies.

According to an affidavit filed in District Judge Scott McGrath’s court yesterday, a search warrant was executed March 17 at Cunningham’s barn where an investigator from District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa’s office found a dead horse and two emaciated live horses. The animals’ bones were visible and there was no food in the barn for them. The water outside the barn was “mostly frozen and stagnant,” the affidavit states.

The dead horse was found in a barn with the floor and stalls filled with feces, which the affidavit stated “indicated lack of nutrition” and there was “a considerable amount of trash, mud and other objects” in the barn which could have posed a threat to the horses. Chewed pieces of wood throughout the barn and on the rear doors further indicated the horses were starving, according to the affidavit. The surviving horses have been removed from Cunningham’s property, according to court papers.

Cunningham stated to an investigator that she had sole responsibility for the animals and did not ask for help with horse care after her financial condition declined.

The investigator also found six dogs and three puppies inside the residence that did not appear thin. But the investigator commented that feces covered the floor, and trash and furniture were scattered and stacked, “making an unsafe and unsanitary environment for the dogs.”

The affidavit noted that Cunningham had, in the past, cared for horses that lived to be nearly 30 years old. She told the investigator that she had been associated with animal rescue and foster groups.

Dianna Estman, founder of Club Pet Adoption in Mercer County, said Cunningham was a volunteer for her organization and several others and was “well-known in the rescue world.”

A preliminary hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. April 30 before McGrath.

(NCNewsOnline - Apr 1, 2015)