ST. PETERSBURG — The owner of two miniature horses is facing felony animal cruelty charges after deputies said they discovered the horses starving in a woman's back yard.
Paul J. Morell, 53, of 4447 43rd St. N said he did not have the money to take care of Ginger, a palomino, and Kisses, a red and white pinto, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office report.
He bought the horses as pets for his daughter and has owned them for about two years, he said. About six months ago, he asked Andrea Fraia of 4421 44th Ave. N whether he could leave them with her temporarily.
Deputies said Morell did not return to see the horses regularly, as he had told Fraia he would.
"She had made some sort of attempt to take care of them," sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tom Nestor said. "She just didn't know what she was doing."
Deputies said it appeared the horses had been eating grass in the back yard, which was barren.
An anonymous tipster reported the malnourished horses in Fraia's back yard, and when deputies responded, they found the horses to be very thin, with their rib cages protruding.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded and removed the horses to provide them with nourishment and medical care.
Deputies referred two counts of animal cruelty against Morell to the State Attorney's Office. Fraia is not facing charges.