John Stroud

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February 26, 2014
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Rifle woman sentenced to 30 days jail in horse neglect case

RIFLE — A Garfield County woman was sentenced Wednesday to serve 30 days in jail and 18 months supervised probation after being found guilty at a January trial of cruelty to animals charges stemming from a horse neglect case last year.

That means Pearl Marie Dunlap will have to submit to regular law enforcement inspections at her property on County Road 259 east of Rifle to make sure her animals are being properly cared for, per the sentencing handed down by Garfield County Court Judge Jonathon Pototsky.

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies were first called to Dunlap’s horse ranch in January 2013 on a report that a mare and foal in her care appeared to be malnourished.

“When the deputy arrived several horses were noted to be on the property with no apparent feed,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office announcing the sentencing.

“The deputy was told that there would be a large bale of hay delivered to both pastures soon,” the release said.

However, in a follow-up visit two days later there was no indication that the hay had been delivered, and deputies received another call later that month that the animals were still malnourished.

“Deputies again responded [and] talked to Ms. Dunlap at some length and explained to her that the horses, boarded or not, were her responsibility,” according to the sheriff’s release.

Officials from the Colorado Brand Board and the Colorado State Veterinarian’s Office subsequently paid a visit, and decided to remove four boarded horses that had apparently been “abandoned,” according to the news release.

One of Dunlap’s own horses was also taken to a veterinarian for assessment and ultimately needed to be put down, according to the sheriff’s office. The other four horses were turned over to Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Eagle.

During another follow-up visit to Dunlap’s ranch two months later, deputies again found no evidence of hay on the property and determined that the remaining five horses were again malnourished.

Deputies returned with two bales of hay and spoke with Dunlap, who again said hay was to be delivered the next day.

“On March 22, 2013, after numerous opportunities to feed and care for her horses, Ms. Dunlap was issued a summons for cruelty to animals,” according to the sheriff’s release.

Dunlap was found guilty of the class one misdemeanor charge by a six-person jury after a two-day trial in the Rifle County Court on Jan. 30 and 31.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 27, 2014 04:36PM Published Apr 2, 2014 10:06PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.