A Leesburg man charged with animal cruelty last year had his case dismissed last week in Hillsboro Municipal Court with the forfeiture of horses that had been confiscated.
The case against Todd Hughes, 51, was filed Sept. 21, 2020 relating to three horses in his care, including one that was allegedly deceased by the time the Highland County Humane Society was able to visit the property where the horses were kept.
According to the Clinton County Humane Society Facebook page, the other two horses included an emaciated mare and another underweight, blind gelding. The mare was euthanized due to its condition, according to the Highland County Humane Society.
“This is NOT the outcome we were hoping to see,” the Clinton County Humane Society post said. “Three horses suffered under his ownership due to him not providing the necessary care that they needed… Again, two horses had to lose their lives, and the case gets dismissed?!! STAND UP AND BE A VOICE HIGHLAND COUNTY!!”
Megan Wolf, shelter manager for the Highland County Humane Society, said she was not closely involved in the legal aspect of the case, mostly writing statements about what she saw and submitting pictures of the horses.
She said the Humane Society was notified of Hughes’ mistreatment of his horses on Aug. 21, 2020, and that he had received other calls about the problem before the horses were confiscated. She said the Highland County Humane Society cannot house or treat horses, so it needed to get that in order as well as talk to authorities. After reaching out to Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), then getting everything in order, officials went to confiscate the horses.
“And so obviously, the guy was there after about a half an hour and he was not real thrilled about. He didn’t see any issues with his animals, things to that nature… So, we ultimately went there to get the animals out of there and to a safe place where they can receive the proper care that they needed, and we went there and we accomplished just that,” Wolfe said. “We helped get everything together. We reached out to other rescues and got them out of there. That’s about the extent of what we are able to do.”
Wolfe said Hughes’ case is different from others the Humane Society has had previously because charges were pressed this time. Usually, she said, the society only educates people.
Wolfe said the Humane Society gets a lot of calls, but that a lot of them are a “waste of time.” She said she prefers the calls that waste the society’s time over needing to get animals to safety in other homes because the society does not have any humane agents. Instead, it provides education to people that call about how to care for their animals and gives access to resources on how to best do that.
“We want everybody to keep their animals, take care of their animals,” Wolfe said. “We just wanna be able to help. We don’t want to have to take animals. But we also want people to know that there are issues in Highland County and if they see them they can always call. They can remain anonymous, and we will do our best to work with the sheriff’s department and other rescues to get these animals to safety and get them the care that they need or whatever needs to be done.”
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2522.