A Woodland woman has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly neglecting her horses, one of which could barely walk because its untrimmed hooves had grown to between 6 and 8 inches in length.
Jamie Hatfield-Taylor, 38, entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday in Cowlitz County District Court to one charge of second-degree animal cruelty, a misdemeanor. Her jury trial is set for March 28.
"I had no money to do anything," Hatfield-Taylor said, breaking into tears outside the courtroom after her arraignment.
According to county Humane Society Officer Mike Nicholson, a citizen reported Aug. 1 that two horses in the 300 block of Robinson Road in Woodland were having trouble walking. The horses, a 26-year-old Appaloosa and a 6-year-old American miniature horse kept in a friend's pasture, had no shelter, and their water tank was scummy and full of mosquito larvae, Nicholson said.
Both horses were "miserable with flies," he said.
"The underbelly side was solid black, full of flies eating at their underbelly. It was sick," Nicholson said.
The miniature horse was overweight, and its hooves were so long and curved that it "basically stayed in one spot most of the time, trying to bite off the biting flies," he said.
Hatfield-Taylor agreed to relinquish ownership of the horses to the Humane Society, which turned the animals over to Wind Haven Horse Rescue in Toutle.
According to Hatfield-Taylor's written statement, her mother had been taking care of the horses before falling ill. Saying she encountered financial troubles last winter, Hatfield-Taylor admitted she didn't care for the horses daily or even weekly, and she left them to graze in a pasture. She tried to trim the miniature horse's hooves herself, she stated.
"I am very ashamed to admit I didn't pursue harder and get help as I should have," she said in her Aug. 3 statement to the Humane Society. "I take full responsibility. ... Saying I'm sorry will never be enough. ... I feel absolute remorse for my actions and shame for my non-actions."
Nicholson said the miniature horse has since been adopted and is in "excellent shape."