TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A Tallapoosa County couple has been arrested for aggravated cruelty to animals after investigators found a dead horse on their property on Flournoy Road near Dadeville, AL.
Sheriff Jimmy Abbett says it's a clear case of animal abuse because of malnutrition.
Social media pictures released by Sheriff Jimmy Abbett show the horse laying down in a pasture along Flournoy Road. The horse's rib cage and hipbones can be seen protruding from the animal's body.
"Basically it appears there was some sort of malnutrition to the horse that didn't just happen over night," he said.
Sheriff Abbett believes the pictures were posted over the weekend, and the horse had not been able to stand for two days. He says his office received a complaint Monday morning. Investigators responded and located the horse, which was later buried on the property.
The animal's owners, 41-year-old Wilburn Sheridan and his wife 38-year-old Lori Sheridan, live at the home across the pasture. Both were arrested Monday for animal cruelty.
Sheriff Abbett says the couple's two other horses remain in their care. However, their health, food and water supply is being monitored by law enforcement.
"We are going to make sure those animals are taken care of or we will move forward with the court system to remove the animals," Sheriff Abbett said.
News Leader 9 did reach out to the couple for a comment and spoke with a woman who identified her as Mr. Sheridan's grandmother. She says the horse was old and her family has done nothing wrong.
Sheriff Abbett says a veterinary expert will be called in to look at the evidence.
"The info we took at the scene, they will be in to look at it. We have done it in other cases where vets look at the case and sometimes it's old age, sometimes it's malnutrition, but in this case it was obvious there was some sort of malnutrition," he said.
Sheriff Abbett says his investigators take cases of animal cruelty very seriously. So if you see something say something so investigators can get on the scene and check it out.
The couple could have their first court appearance in May or June, and a grand jury could hear the case this fall.
Sheriff Abbett says aggravated animal amuse is a Class C Felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison.