Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 10, 2013

Horses seized in animal cruelty probe

BY GLENN PUIT gpuit@record-eagle.comStrokeStyle/$ID/Japanese Dots and MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — ELLSWORTH — Antrim County authorities seized multiple malnourished horses from an Ellsworth farm and arrested two people on animal cruelty charges.

Timothy Eugene Allen, 56, and Tracey Lee Buzzell, 50, both of Ellsworth, were arrested on charges of felony animal abandonment and cruelty, based on a probable cause complaint obtained by the Record-Eagle on Thursday evening. Antrim County sheriff’s deputies were observed seizing horses from a farm on Toad Lake Road in Banks Township.

Authorities said the horses appeared thin and seriously neglected.

“Animals in our care need to be taken care of in a humane way,” Antrim County Prosecutor Charles Koop said Thursday night. “When animals aren’t properly cared for, it’s the obligation of the county to step in.”

Koop said the horses' conditions were described to him by investigators as “severely distressed to neglected.”

The probable cause complaint filed in 86th District Court said the investigation started when Antrim County Animal Control Officer Brenda McGuire received a complaint from a citizen who’d visited the farm and “discovered a number of horses in poor condition.”

The woman who filed the complaint previously worked with the animals.

McGuire went to the farm on May 2 and observed, from the road, several “very thin” horses. McGuire, according to the probable cause document, interviewed Buzzell at the scene.

“Ms. Buzzell admitted that as of December 2012 they were unable to obtain sufficient feed for the animals,” the document states.

Pamela Graves, doctor of veterinary medicine, examined all 18 horses on the property.

“(Graves) concluded that all were in various stages of neglect and should be removed from the property,” the probable cause affidavit states.

The farm is located up a hill at the gravel intersection of Dennis and Toad Lake roads. A reporter observed eight very thin horses outside as animal control officers tagged more inside a barn. A woman drove her GMC Safari up to the farm shortly before trailers arrived to transport the horses. A bale of straw could be seen in the back of the woman's vehicle.

She seemed surprised law enforcement was there. The Record-Eagle was unable to ask questions before authorities handcuffed the woman.

A man also drove his truck to the residence and angrily asked why law enforcement was there.

The Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition said in a press release it assisted with removal of the horses. The horses will be transported to Serenity Farms in Frederic for medical care. The animals will then be moved to foster homes.

“Resources and assistance are out there; if you find that you cannot feed or provide adequate veterinary care to your horses, you can ask for help," said Jill Fritz, president of the coalition.