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HSWC Sets Precedent in Animal Cruelty Case

On Monday, October 24th, Joseph Bowers, Jr. was found guilty of 37 counts of animal cruelty by Judge Mark Thomas in the Washington County District Court. Bowers had been charged by the Humane Society of Washington County.

HSWC Field Service Officers seized two horses belonging to Bowers on January 22nd of this year. At the time, he was charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty for failure to provide food, water, veterinary care, and causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

On April 1, 2016, the HSWC received a complaint concerning the welfare of additional horses owned by Bowers. A search and seizure warrant was served at the location of the horses on April 3rd. A total of five horses were removed from two separate properties by the HSWC. Of those seized, some were found emaciated inside of a barn, standing in up to two feet of manure and urine. Two of the emaciated horses were pregnant and due within weeks. Several horses had urine scald on their bodies. They were infested with parasites and in critical condition.

After that seizure, Bowers was then charged with 25 additional counts of animal cruelty for failure to provide food, water, veterinary care, proper space, and causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

“I think this case has set a precedent for large animals, especially horses, in Washington County,” Field Services Officer Crystal Mowery said. “There is a standard of care that must be upheld for these animals, and if not, there will be consequences.”

On Monday, Bowers was sentenced to a 90 day suspended sentence on all charges for a total of 21 months. He must serve a three year period of supervised probation with all fines waived. Mr. Bowers must forfeit all of his seized horses and must downsize his herd to one horse per two acres of land. Judge Thomas also ordered Mr. Bowers to complete a mental evaluation. Finally, the HSWC is permitted to inspect all properties owned or leased by Mr. Bowers, including inside of barns.


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