FARMINGTON -- An autistic man and his sister face charges of animal cruelty after an investigation led to the impoundment of six horses and a lamb, the Davis County Animal Care and Control director said.
Vanessa Vereen Sharp, 28, of Bountiful, has been charged in Farmington Justice Court with five counts of cruelty to animals, class B misdemeanors. Her brother, Paul Edson Santos Sharp, 30, has been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, class B misdemeanors. They have court hearings scheduled for Monday.
Clint Thacker, director of Davis County Animal and Control, said animal control officers received several phone calls about the horses and lamb not having any water or enough food.
"The officer went out there several times for field evaluations and saw there was no water supplied," Thacker said.
The horses, which include a thoroughbred, a quarter horse and an Arabian, were just grazing the field and no other food supply was visible.
The officer gave the Sharps several warnings, but on June 14 the officer called a veterinarian and told him what the conditions of the horses were, Thacker said.
"He recommended that we impound all the animals because at least two were really bad," Thacker said.
The horses had lice, Thacker said.
The officer shot video of the horses, which showed them with "a breathing rate per minute" much higher than normal.
"We rode the horses the night before in the mountains and we would have seen the lice when we groomed them," Vanessa Sharp said.
Vanessa Sharp said she arrived at the pasture within minutes after officers had impounded their animals. She said she took photographs of the water and hay that was in the field for her animals.
She said the first time she heard about the lice was Friday when asked by the Standard-Examiner.
Sharp said she got her first horse, a black gelding, eight years ago. Her brother got the pony six years ago.
When Paul Sharp was younger, he enrolled in horse therapy. It helped him, so Vanessa Sharp and he figured out how to add horses.
"The horses are great therapy for him," Vanessa Sharp said.
Vanessa Sharp said neighbors by the pasture called to complain about them. One of the complaints included that one of their six horses had lost a lot of weight.
"Actually the neighbor didn't know we got another horse, which was smaller than the first one," Vanessa Sharp said.
She said she had received a call from animal control once before about their lamb having no water. The lamb had tipped over the bucket and the Sharps bought a new bucket.
Vanessa Sharp also said she and her brother were at the field on Lund Lane every day feeding the horses hay and adding water to the trough. They also planned to move the horses to a better pasture, but the horses were impounded before they could move them.
She and her brother plan to fight the charges and want to get their horses back. They are fearful that if animal control keeps them, the horses will end up in the slaughterhouse.
Thacker said the fate of the horses depends on what happens in court. The judge could give the animals back to the Sharps, if the Sharps can prove they can take care of the animals; or he can turn custody of the animals over to the county. If the county gets custody, animal services then can be told by the judge to either send the animals to a livestock auction or the county can hold its own auction.
"The Sharps aren't bad horse owners," Thacker said. "I think they may have had too many to care for."