A Cortez resident charged with animal cruelty has pleaded guilty and has been given a deferred sentence.
Daisy Stenzel was charged with 18 counts of animal cruelty after her 18 horses were seized by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office on April 16.
In a plea agreement, she pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty, and the other counts were dismissed, said 22nd Judicial District Attorney Will Furse.
As part of a deferred sentence, she cannot own a horse for two years and must pay $6,120 in restitution to cover costs of rehabilitating the seized horses. A sentence of six months in jail was suspended, pending successful restitution payment and compliance with the plea deal.
“My belief is that this was an isolated incident, and was an offense she deeply regrets,” Furse said.
Stenzel inherited the horses after a relative died, he said, but she struggled with the financial requirements to feed and care for them.
Under the deferred sentence and plea agreement, if Stenzel complies with the two-year conditions, the guilty plea will be withdrawn, and the case will be dismissed.
In April, after citizen complaints and an investigation, Sheriff Steve Nowlin seized the horses from Stenzel’s property on County Road N, and they were transported to the Harmony Equestrian Rescue Center in Frankton, Colorado. Stenzel was charged with failing to provide the animals with proper food, drink or protection from the weather, in violation of Colorado law.
As part of the investigation and seizure order, they were examined by a Bureau of Animal Protection agent, a state veterinarian and a local veterinarian, and all concluded that they were suffering from malnutrition. Nowlin described them as “emaciated.”
Stenzel told investigators that she had been feeding the horses “four loaf flakes in the morning and four loaf flakes in the evening.” No grazing was available on the property, according to the report.
Stenzel admitted that the horses had not been receiving veterinary or farrier care. One was a recently born foal, and she told investigators that she didn’t know that the mare was pregnant.
Nowlin said ownership of the horses have been transfered to the Harmony rescue center. They have had nutritional, veterinarian and farrier care, and have been recovering well. They will be put up for adoption once fully healthy.
“People need to ask for help in these situations. There are assistance programs available,” Nowlin said.
“We see this often, where people don’t have the pocketbook to take care of their animals. We continue to get a lot of animal neglect complaints and are monitoring those cases.”