Horses confined to tiny backyard at home in Riverview subdivision

Hillsborough County

A Hillsborough County man was arrested on animal abandonment charges after deputies tell News Channel 8 they found a dead horse in his backyard in a Riverview subdivision.

A second horse was taken away from the home and is doing well, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

Neighbors said they had not seen David Wayne Middleton, 60, at his home for weeks.

Deputies responded to Middleton’s home in the Panther Trace subdivision on Wednesday after receiving a complaint about animal neglect.

The small backyard, approximately 40 x 40 feet, had no water, food or shelter available for the horses, the sheriff’s spokeswoman said in a press release.

Middleton’s daughter went by the home Friday. She spoke to News Channel 8 but didn’t want her identity mentioned on air.

“They were just sad. And Magic was old. He was an old horse. He was in his mid-20s,” the woman said. 

Magic is the horse that died.

The man’s daughter said her dad has dementia and likely had no idea where he was keeping the horses.

“For him, he might have thought he was on a ranch,” the woman said. 

“Anyone who knows him, he’s one of the biggest animal advocates. I get that quality from him. They know he would never abandon an animal or neglect or abuse. Ever.”

The surviving horse was transported to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office shelter where it is receiving medical care. 

A video of the horse, named Levi, shows it enjoying grass in a field Friday afternoon.

Middleton is now charged with Aggravated Cruelty to Animals. Deputies say, Middleton, who has more than 10 years of experience with horses, failed to seek veterinarian advice or services resulting in the cruel death of the horse.

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