Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Washington: Tessi Woodard (aka Tessita Duff) wanted for suspected horse abuse

WASHINGTON -- Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputies are searching for a woman wanted on animal cruelty charges after her horse’s emaciated figure and sore-ridden body took social media by storm last month.

Suspect Tessita L. Duff, 42, is believed to be living in northern Cowlitz County. Duff, sometimes known as Tessi Woodard, also is wanted on a warrant for unrelated charges.

The sheriff’s office found probable cause to arrest her two weeks ago, but Duff hasn’t turned herself in and deputies have been unable to find her, Handy said. Anyone with information about her whereabouts can contact Handy at (360) 577-3092 or provide an anonymous tip online.

The horse’s health has improved since it was seized by Animal Control last month, said Keenan Harvey, executive director of Cowlitz County Humane Society and Animal Control. It still is emaciated but has gained some weight and a big sore is mostly healed. The horse, called “Dust” by its owner but known as “Pilgrim” on social media, will stay at an undisclosed rescue location during any legal proceedings against its owner.

If Duff is found innocent, she could get the horse back, Harvey said; if found guilty, she must surrender all animals in her possession.

The Humane Society had been monitoring Dust for quite some time.

However, Duff claimed Dust was a 30-year old horse with a health condition that made it difficult to gain weight despite trying various foods. Her veterinarian corroborated this evaluation.

It wasn’t until Dust escaped and was found by Castle Rock resident Amy Applebury that a second vet contradicted the first and instead concluded that Dust was sick and under 10 years old. A third independent vet agreed with the second.

(TDN - Nov 28, 2016)