Horse owner arrested after Pasco deputies say they found malnourished animals

Pasco County

HUDSON, Fla. (WFLA) — Just skin and bones. That’s how a neighbor describes a horse that died after Pasco agriculture deputies tried to confiscate the animal.

Now, the horse’s owner is facing animal cruelty charges.

It began with a 911 call: 

“We have a horse that will not stand up. We’re trying to get him to stand up. He’s kind of wedged between a boat and a fence” said the 911 caller.

Off a dirt road near Highway 19 in Hudson, behind a fence, Pasco deputies discovered a malnourished horse on the ground, in distress.

The put together a hoist to lift it up. “The horse dropped, it had bad hooves and it couldn’t stand anymore,” said neighbor, Rick Griffin.

He watched the rescue effort. Griffin said the owner, Nicole Hutchins, and her boyfriend, were out all night with the horse. 

“When they lifted it up in the air, supposedly, when they lifted it up, it collapsed its lung and it died,” said Griffin.

Deputies said Hutchins intentionally and willfully deprived her seven horses of the necessary food and care. As a result, the horses lost a lot of weight and two were so skinny and weak one of them could not get up for over 24 hours and eventually died.

The six surviving horses are at the sheriff’s stables, being nursed to health.

Hutchin’s neighbors said the horse that died was a rescue, that came to Hutchins in bad shape.

“She has been around the clock out here with the horse trying to do the best, make sure it had food and water around the clock,” said Marlene Bernier. “She’s never lost a horse under her care.  This is her first horse every dying under her care” said Bernier.

This all started about a month ago, when a passerby noticed the horses.
Deputies say they tried to work with the owner but returned Thursday and made the arrest.

Hutchins is charged with one count of felony animal cruelty and six counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. She has since been released from jail.

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