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Trial date set for owners of malnourished horses in Utah County

Published August 14, 2013 1:47 pm

Courts • Mother, son charged with animal cruelty involving sick or dying animals.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A mother and son charged with cruelty to animals after more than 100 malnourished horses were found on their Utah County property will go to trial on the charges in January.

Trudy Childs, 59, and her son Rory Childs, 31, were each charged with one count of class B misdemeanor cruelty to an animal and 19 counts of cruelty to an animal, a class A misdemeanor, after Utah County sheriff's deputies found about 130 horses that were malnourished, sick, dying or dead on their properties in February.

On Tuesday, a three-day trial was set for the pair, slated to begin Jan. 22.

During a June preliminary hearing, Utah County sheriff's Deputy Sean Peterson testified about the condition of the horses found on the Childses' property. He went through a number of photos, some showing extremely thin horses, others showed oozing, open wounds on the animals. No clean water source or visible feed were located on the various properties that the Childses owned, Peterson testified.

Peterson noted during his testimony that between six and eight horse carcasses were found on the Childses' properties.

About half of the Childses' horses were auctioned off in May, after county officials filed a lien of more than $15,000 against the Childses for the care and feeding of the horses. The Childses were notified of the lien, prosecutors said in court papers, but failed to make payments.

According to court documents, Utah County authorities were tipped off to the malnourished horses last February after a neighbor noticed a black horse that could not stand and looked extremely underweight. The neighbor also noticed trees in the pasture that had been debarked by the hungry horses, according to a police statement.

Once deputies began investigating, they found that all of the horses showed signs of lethargy and lack of adequate food and care, according to prosecutors.

According to an autopsy, two of the dead horses were poisoned by eating moldy corn.

Two veterinarians who evaluated the horses concluded they were severely malnourished. According to a report filed in 4th District Court, one veterinarian noted that several of the horses had lice infestations and ticks spread "profusely" over their bodies.

The Childses will be back in court on Dec. 17.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller