Friday, January 6, 2017

Wisconsin: Belva Bowden, 57, charged with animal cruelty after starving her horse to death. DA's office refuses to file felony charge

WISCONSIN -- An animal welfare group is grateful a Wood County prosecutor filed a charge against a person accused of starving a horse to death but disappointed the charge isn't more severe.

On Wednesday, Wood County Assistant District Attorney Michael Zell charged Belva M. Bowden, 57, of Babcock with a misdemeanor charge of mistreating an animal.

In October, Wood County Humane Officer Nanci Olson had requested three charges, including a felony charge of mistreating an animal causing its death.

Zell said Thursday it is not unusual that an officer's request for a charge and what a prosecutor actually charges to be different.

"We need to look at statutes and everything else involved with a case and make a decision of what charges are provable in court," Zell said.

Zell said he can't discuss why he chose the misdemeanor charge in this specific case because anything he would say involving the case could taint it.

According to the court documents, a citizen reported finding a horse next to State 80 in Babock Sept. 26 and walked the horse to a nearby residence belonging to a second citizen. The horse's owner, Bowden, came and got the horse, according to documents.

Olson went to Bowden's home and saw two horses together in a fenced area. The horse the citizen had found, Roy, was emaciated and had other apparent medical problems, according to the documents. The horses had access to only moldy hay, and Olson asked Bowden why Roy was so thin, according to the documents.

Bowden said Roy was older and had a hard time eating and had just started losing weight during the previous couple of months, according to the report. Bowden said she had not gotten the horse veterinary care, according to the report.

Belva M. Bowden agreed to surrender Roy and Olson contacted the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, according to the documents.

The foundation attempted to develop a treatment plan for the animal, but he died on Oct. 2. Midwest Horse Welfare Co-Director Karen Bayerl and her husband Scott noticed that Roy was no longer able to stand and requested a veterinarian carry out euthanasia.

Bayerl held the horse’s head and fed him a bowl of feed while waiting for the vet to arrive, the Sentinel reports.

Karen Bayerl, who co-directs the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation with her husband, Scott, said she and her husband are grateful and believe they are seeing justice for Roy, but have mixed emotions that only one misdemeanor charge was filed against Bowden regarding Roy.

"We sincerely thank (the Wood County District Attorney's Office and Zell) for acting on this case and taking it seriously, as this is a very serious matter," Karen Bayerl said.

Karen Bayerl said she and her husband also are grateful for Olson's work on the case and for all the people who cared about Roy and fought to see the horse got justice.

"We sincerely thank everyone who was involved, including the media, for helping get justice for Roy," Karen Bayerl said.

(Daily Tribune - Jan 5, 2017)

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