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Officials seized two malnourished horses from Sherry Renee Overfelt. A judge ordered other animals be taken from her home, and said that Sherry Renee Overfelt may no longer own any at all.
Courtesy Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue Inc.
Lulu, a 28-year-old Appaloosa mare, was taken away from owner Sherry Renee Overfelt in Boones Mill in January. The horse was so malnourished that it had to be euthanized.
Sherry Renee Overfelt
Friday, May 3, 2013
A Boones Mill woman who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty must spend 30 days in jail and will no longer be allowed to keep animals, a judge ruled Thursday.
The charge came about in January, after Franklin County officials seized from Sherry Renee Overfelt two malnourished horses, one of which was in such poor shape it had to be euthanized.
Overfelt, 41, entered her guilty plea Thursday in Franklin County Circuit Court and will begin serving her sentence next week. Judge Stacey Moreau also ordered that officials take a third horse Overfelt owns, as well as her six chickens, two cats and a duck.
“You just do not have the time or the resources to care for them,” Moreau told her. She also ordered Overfelt to cover the medical expenses incurred in treating the two sick horses, and she will no longer be legally allowed to own agricultural or companion animals.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Nix said at the hearing that Capt. Marvin Woods of the Franklin County Department of Public Safety visited Overfelt on Jan. 23 with concerns about the horses. Overfelt agreed that day to turn them over to the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue in Hardy.
“She said one horse had been bullying another, keeping it from eating,” Nix told the court. He added that Overfelt has no serious criminal record and no history of mistreating animals.
The horses were a 28-year-old Appaloosa mare, renamed Lulu by the horse rescue, and an 8-year-old Saddlebred gelding renamed Neptune.
Lulu weighed 575 pounds the day she was seized, Patricia Muncy, the horse rescue’s president, said outside of court. Muncy, who attended the trial but did not testify, said a normal weight for a horse of that age and size would be about 900 pounds.
Nix said the veterinarian who examined Lulu evaluated her on a nine-point body condition scoring chart, with 9 being the healthiest level, and rated her a 1.5 to 2. The vet determined that it took at least two weeks for that level of malnourishment to occur.
Lulu was put down on Feb. 6, Muncy said.
Overfelt’s husband, Christopher Overfelt, testified that she is chiefly responsible for raising their four children, who range in age from 2 to 14, and she also cares for his ailing mother.
“She’s got a lot on her back,” Christopher Overfelt said. “She also takes in animals. Feeds them. Finds them homes.”
He said his wife has found homes for about 15 animals over the past year.
“I basically don’t have a life during the day,” Sherry Overfelt told the court, and acknowledged she’d become overwhelmed in the time leading up to when the horses were seized: “I was not in my right mind.
“I tried to care for the horses myself, and I couldn’t.”
“This was a horse that was just starved to death,” Moreau told Overfelt. “It’s just tragic that you allowed it to happen.”
Muncy said Neptune, who weighed 802 pounds in January, put on nearly 100 pounds within two weeks of being brought to the horse rescue.
She said she was happy with the verdict and hoped it would send a message to people who can’t or won’t care for their animals.
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