CLEARFIELD – A DuBois woman accused of neglecting a horse leading to its death was sentenced Tuesday during plea and sentencing court.
Brenda Marie Dush, 50, pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and neglect of animals, a misdemeanor.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman commented that he had received letters about this case and stated that it was terrible that people had to watch the horse deteriorate.
Referring to the case as “senseless”, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. asked the judge to give her a long period of probation, which would prohibit her from owning any other animals while she is under supervision.
Ammerman sentenced her to serve nine months to two years less one day in jail and three years consecutive probation.
The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 22, 2018 when police received a report of a deceased horse at the Dush’s home.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, when police arrived, they saw a horse lying on the ground next to a round bale of hay to the rear of the residence. The horse was extremely thin and the officers noted they could see its spine and ribs beneath its skin.
An animal protection group, “One Dog at a Time,” which had received a report about the animal, offered to pay for a necropsy of the horse.
The veterinarian’s report confirmed the horse’s cause of death was emaciation due to starvation and malnutrition.
Prior to sentencing, Keri Coble, of ODAAT, addressed the court explaining how the horse must have suffered.
She said there was a bale of hay not far away, but it could not reach it because it was tied to a tree.
“This was an intentional act of starvation,” she said, adding that the horse, Cocoa, had even started to eat the tree.
The horse was near a church where people saw it every week. People tried to get help for it, and others even offered to buy her, but Dush refused and would not surrender it to a rescue group, Coble said.
Cocoa had zero percent body fat when she died, according to the vet who did the necropsy. He said he had never seen a case of starvation this bad.
After Coble finished, Dush, who previously had nothing to say in her defense, began crying saying she was sorry. She thought the horse could reach the hay and water.
“I didn’t starve him. I would never hurt any animal,” she said.
Dush’s husband, Joseph Clyde Daniel Dush, 65, is facing similar charges. His case is still pending.