Authorities seize 19 animals from property near Zalma, Mo.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ZALMA, Mo. -- A horse sold in June to Mark and Sheryl Woodworth of Zalma was allegedly thrown into the woods to rot after dying from starvation, according to a report filed with the Bollinger County Sheriff's Department.

Nineteen animals were seized Monday from a property off County Road 710 near Zalma. The animals included three horses, three goats, three cats, five dogs, a rabbit and three chickens.

This is the second case of alleged animal abuse and neglect in Bollinger County in two weeks.

Sheri Slemmer of Bollinger County reported the death of the horse to the sheriff's department Aug. 14, saying she sold the horse, Zoey, to the Woodworths in June. She said she was told in late July that the horse died of starvation. She said she recently entered the woods behind the residence to look for Zoey and found the remains.

Slemmer's complaint was one of several that led to the warrant for search and seizure of the animals.

According to Bollinger County deputy Jeff Woodard, the original complaint was that there were five horses at the property being neglected. He visited the residence Aug. 11 and gave a first warning to the owners.

"There were supposed to be two horses being kept in the front of the house that were in poor condition and two horses kept in the rear of the house that were really bad," Woodard said. "The fifth horse was said to be dead behind the house."

But he found only three live horses that day. Remains of the deceased horse behind the house were investigated Monday, but Woodard said the location of the fifth horse is unknown.

One of the horses, a Mustang named Star, was reported to be in good shape, but Woodard said Star had belonged to the Woodworths for only two months. The other two remaining horses, Symba and Jo, were reported to be suffering from malnutrition.

Their hipbones, shoulder and rib bones could easily be identified through the skin, Woodard reported.

"Jo had a small structure to provide shelter, but there was no structure for the two front horses," he said.

Further behind the home, Woodard said he found the goats. They were in similar condition as the horses. He said bones in their shoulders, chest, ribs and back were easily visible.

"Their pen was a small enclosure without fresh water, food or grass to eat," Woodard said.

Annie, a black and brown dog, was chained up behind the residence, and bones in her back, hips, ribs and shoulders were also visible, according to Woodard.

"Her feed bowl was full of water with a dead frog floating in it," he said. A water bowl had algae growing in it.

Deputies Woodard, Steven McCain and Eric Sarakas accompanied Humane Society of Missouri investigators Kyle Held and Christina Portman, as well as veterinarian Dr. Colleen Retz, to serve a warrant to the Woodworths.

When they arrived, they reported noticing one of the chickens could not stand upright or walk.

Retz viewed all the animals and stated that all of them needed to be removed from the property, Woodard said.

He said the animals were taken to a Humane Society farm near St. Louis where they will be nursed back to health and most likely put up for adoption.

The Woodworths are charged with animal neglect. They will appear at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Bollinger County Court.

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