Reyna Pina, 37, is charged with "Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals - Torture," a state jail felony.
If convicted, Piña could face up to a $10,000 fine and up to two years in state jail.
The SPCA's cruelty investigation started after someone reported two emaciated dogs in the yard.
SPCA Cruelty Investigator Staci Kimberlin first visited the property on November 30th. Kimberlin said she found two pit bulls tethered without food, water or shelter.
Kimberlin also said she was shocked to discover two horses in the garage, also without food.
On November 15th, Kimberlin told FOX 4 she could not do anything more than leave a notice on the door, because the animals were still alive.
“Right now, at this particular moment, nothing,” Kimberlin said. “I can’t do anything. If I went to a judge and said this is what I’ve got, I want to take these animals right now, it wouldn’t be enough.”
No one responded to the notice left at the house, so two days later, a different SPCA investigator went back to the home.
The investigator said the conditions had not improved, but he said he spoke with Piña in person. He said Piña claimed she fed the animals twice a day and promised to give the animals proper care.
Even after this second visit, the SPCA still did not have grounds for a warrant to seize the animal.
“The animals were active,” Kimberlin explained. “There was no indication whatsoever that these animals were in need of emergency seizure.
Unfortunately, by the 30th, with no contact from the owner whatsoever, that wasn't the case anymore for the one dog.”
Two weeks later on November 30th, the SPCA obtained a search warrant and found one of the pit bulls, described as the one with a dark blue coat, dead inside the garage. They immediately seized the rest of the animals.
A necropsy revealed the blue pit bull had been dead three to five days from starvation. An SPCA veterinarian testified that the dog likely did not have food for 48 to 72 hours before it passed away. The only thing the veterinarian could find in its digestive system were a few leaves.
“It was very heartbreaking,” Kimberlin said.
The veterinarian said the surviving dog, a red and white pit bull, was very thin and had intestinal worms.
The younger horse, a one-year-old brown sorrel colt, was very thin and had intestinal worms. Its hooves were also chipped and cracked.
The black quarter horse mare, around three to five years old, was thin and had a lame left leg. The SPCA said an x-ray revealed the horse had a nail stuck in her foot, causing “significant pain.”
Piña failed to show up for a December 8th civil court hearing for custody of the animals. The hearing proceeded anyway. After listening to testimony from two SPCA cruelty investigators and the SPCA veterinarian, the judge agreed that the animals had been cruelly-treated and awarded custody to the SPCA
As the criminal proceedings move forward, the three surviving animals continue to be cared for by the SPCA.
The animals will be put up for adoption in the coming weeks.
(Fox4 - Dec 22, 2016)