Georgia Woman Pleads No Contest to Cruelty Charges

A Georgia woman has pleaded no contest to charges connected with the alleged maltreatment of 41 horses on her Thomas County property.

Anita Meisen, president of the Dancing Cloud Farm Horse Rescue Inc., said that in October volunteers from her organization and from the Georgia Equine Rescue League began feeding the horses residing on a roughly three-acre property without access to adequate feed and water resources in Ochlocknee. Personnel from both agencies and from the Thomas County Humane Society subsequently met with property owners Cecil Lewis Walker and Kathleen Walker to establish a plan to improve the animals' circumstances, but they could not reach a care agreement with the horses' owners.

On Oct. 31 Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell obtained warrants allowing the humane agencies to remove the horses from the property. On Nov. 1 Dancing Cloud Farm and Georgia Rescue League volunteers removed the animals from the property. The horses were then placed in protective custody at Dancing Cloud Farm, Meisen said.

At the time of their removal 39 of the horses had body condition scores between 2 and 3 on the Henneke Scale (from 1 to 9, emaciated to obese), Meisen said, and two scored 1.5. Veterinary examinations also revealed the horses suffering from parasite infestations and other conditions, Meisen said.

Thomas County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Captain Steve Jones said Cecil Lewis Walker and Kathleen Walker were each later charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

State Court Clerk David Hutchins said that during a Nov. 14 court appearance Kathleen Walker pleaded no contest to the animal cruelty charge. The court ordered her to forfeit the 41 horses to the Thomas County Sheriff's Department and to surrender all registration and other records pertaining to the animals. Kathleen Walker was also ordered to return to court as a witness in Cecil Walker's trial, which takes place Nov. 28, Hutchins said.

Kathleen Walker's sentencing will take place later, Hutchins said.

Neither Cecil Lewis Walker nor Kathleen Walker was available for comment.

Meanwhile, Meisen said that since their removal all the animals have responded well to rehabilitative treatment.

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.

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