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Published March 24, 2009, 05:53 PM

Hawthorne woman faces charges for horse neglect

Charges were filed this month against a Hawthorne woman whose horses were rescued by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation in January after one of five died.

Charges were filed this month against a Hawthorne woman whose horses were rescued by the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation in January after one of five died.

Crystal A. Johnson, 40, faces four counts of neglected or abandoned animals. Each ordinance violation carries a maximum fine of $148, according to the Clerk of Courts Office.

The charges stem from a January incident where the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department responded to a Poplar property to investigate a dead horse. The other horses on the property were removed by Minnesota Hooved Animal Humane Society at the request of the property owner, who said the animals had been there since the previous spring. He told deputies there was no boarding contract; he had been letting them stay there to help the owner, who was responsible for feeding and watering the animals.

When one of the horses began looking ill earlier that week, the property owner said he had been unable to contact the owner. According to the report, the animal “went down” during the cold weather and later died.

The small herd once again numbers five. One of the mares, who was pregnant when rescued, gave birth to a healthy foal in February. The birth took place on a very cold, windy night with a lot of snow, according to Drew Fitzpatrick, director of the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation.

“If it had not been in a vet clinic in a nice warm stall, I’m sure it would have died,” he said of the foal.

Since the rescue, one of the animals — a stallion — has been gelded and all of them have continued to gain weight and health, according to Fitzpatrick.

For more information on the organization, look it up online at www.mnhoovedanimalrescue.org.

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