Florida Pair Charged for Neglecting Horses

Florida Pair Charged for Neglecting Horses

Dixie Boy was found in skeletal condition and residing in a small, fenced compound without sufficient food or water, Polk County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Carrie Eleazer said.

Photo: Courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office

A Florida couple faces multiple charges after they failed to provide care for several horses, including one for which they were paid to look after.

Polk County, Florida. Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Carrie Eleazer said that since 2011, a California resident has paid Jacob Caudy and Emily Cowper more than $1,200 to care for her 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding named Dixie Boy. In April, sheriff’s personnel responded to several complaints regarding malnourished horses at Caudy and Cowper's Lakeland, Florida, property. Upon investigation, they found several allegedly maltreated horses, including Dixie Boy, who was found in skeletal condition and residing in a small, fenced compound without sufficient food or water, Eleazer said. Dixie Boy was subsequently surrendered to Polk County deputies, Eleazer said, and was eventually taken to the Hope Equine Rescue in Auburndale, Florida, for rehabilitative care.

Upon further investigation, sheriff's department personnel discovered 18 other horses that were allegedly emaciated, dehydrated, and in distress, Eleazar said. One horse died at the scene while being treated by a veterinarian, and the remaining horses were seized by Polk County Sheriff's personnel, she said. Of the surviving horses, seven are currently receiving veterinary care at the Polk County Sheriff Department's animal control facility, while the 10 healthier horses are at a sheriff’s office stockade in Bartow, Florida, Eleazer said.

The deceased horse underwent necropsy on June 3, Eleazer said.

Sheriff's personnel also seized one dog, one cat, one kitten, 14 snakes, two iguanas, one African grey parrot, and one lovebird, all of which are at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control facility, Eleazer said.

“During a search of the residence, deputies located a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s badge, which Caudy told deputies he stole from a residence while visiting a friend whose husband is a Hillsborough County Deputy Sheriff,” Eleazer said.

Caudy was subsequently charged with one count of petty theft, one count of felony animal cruelty, and 45 counts of confining an animal without sufficient food and water. Cowper was charged with one count of perjury, one count of grand theft, one count of felony animal cruelty, and 45 counts of confining n animal without sufficient food and water.

Both Cowper and Caudy were arrested and booked in to the Polk County Jail. There were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, Hope Equine Rescue President and trainer Dani Horton said Dixie Boy will remain in her organization's custody pending the outcome of the case. The horse responding well to rehabilitative treatment, and its owner is monitoring the animal's care at the rescue, Horton said.

“He's gained about 90 pounds in the four weeks since he came here and his other injuries are healing well, but he needs more rehabilitation,” Horton said. “His owner was just devastated (by the case), and we are in frequent touch with her.”

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners