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Couple charged with animal cruelty over horses at Brooksville ranch

BROOKSVILLE — Owners of seven malnourished horses seized from a home last week are now facing charges of animal cruelty.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Friday said the State Attorney's Office issued a warrant for Jerry Conley, 58, who was arrested on Thursday and charged with eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

A similar warrant has been issued for his girlfriend, Jillian Medina, 25, who now lives in Pasco County.

On Nov. 12, Hernando County Animal Services employees responding to a complaint at 14020 Tranquility Lane in Brooksville found nine horses reportedly in poor condition. Two of the horses were down and had to be euthanized after a veterinarian determined that they were too far gone to be saved.

The other horses were taken to a facility operated by the Hernando Emergency Animal Response Team, where they are being treated for malnutrition and a variety of conditions. According to Animal Services, all have been placed with reputable animal rescue facilities and are expected to survive.

Animal Services supervisor Patrick Pace said that Conley and Medina operated a horse rescue facility called Living Ranch on the 2-acre property they were renting.

He said that Conley explained to him that they had run out of money for food and were in the process of being evicted when Animal Services arrived. Pace said his agency was unaware of the facility before getting the complaint.

According to its Web site, Living Ranch operated mostly on donations and money earned from adoption fees. The owners touted themselves as a "typical horse loving family."

Living Ranch is the second animal rescue operation shut down by Animal Services since Oct. 30, when more than 200 animals were removed by court order from the nonprofit Our Animal Haus sanctuary in Brooksville. A county judge determined that owners Carol Mas and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, had failed to provide proper food and living conditions for the animals.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

Couple charged with animal cruelty over horses at Brooksville ranch 11/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2009 5:51pm]
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