Judge Returns Horses To A Ranch Owner Accused of Animal Cruelty - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/29/2007 - Upshur County

Judge Returns Horses To A Ranch Owner Accused of Animal Cruelty

An East Texas rancher, accused of leaving more than 50 horses to starve, is getting some of the animals back.  Last week, Upshur county authorities charged Carlton nelson, 60 with misdemeanor animal cruelty.   Authorities rescued the horses from two of Nelson's ranch properties.       

"I've never starved or been cruel to an animal in any way...it's just not my nature,'" said Carlton Nelson.  

In a court ruling sixteen horses will be returned back to Nelson, all because of a horse grading scale, from one to nine. "There were seven horses that were in good shape,9 horses were... rated # 4's which could be brought up with different methods of feeding and making sure their taken care of," said Judge Lyle Potter.

"A good deal of the horses graded out perfectly, and some less than perfect and that's why some of the horses are rightfully being returned back to Mr. Nelson," said Nelson's lawyer Todd Tefteller.

 Returning the animals back to Nelson is exactly what some animal activists are afraid of.

"I'm horrified the whole purpose of having an animal cruelty statue is to protect animals from this kind of treatment," said Animal Welfare attorney, Kelly Heitkamp.

 So, what will happen to the horses and how do they know this won't happen again?

"They will be checked periodically, he is going to be required to furnish records such as medical care, the feed bill, every thirty days," said Judge Potter.

 As for the other thirty-five horses rescued, they'll be put up for public sale.

 "These horses can still and most likely will be sold to a rendering plant because no one's going to buy them as pets, not in that condition," said Heitkamp.

  "These horses were on land with grass, the ones that weren't, were on feed and water, if that wasn't the case he wouldn't be getting any of the horses back," said Tefteller. 

 If found guilty Nelson could face up to one year in prison, pay a four-thousand dollar fine, and be put on probation.

LaKecia Shockley, reporting. lshockley@kltv.com 

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