Woman whose farm turned up dozens of dead horses will serve no jail time
A Maryland horse owner who was convicted of more than 30 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in April will serve no time in jail, Delmarva Now reports.
The stunning decision comes after 75-year-old Barbara Pilchard was found guilty of animal abuse and failure to provide proper care to 13 specific horses, six of which had to be euthanized. Though Pilchard was given 90 days of jail time for each horse that had to be put down, the judge presiding over her case elected to suspend her 18-month sentence.
While disappointed in the decision, prosecutors said that Pilchard could still go to jail if she violates her five-year probation, which mandates that she receive mental health treatment and stay away from domestic animals. Pilchard has also been fined $1,000 for each horse she was charged with abusing and must pay $13,000 altogether.
In explaining the details of Pilchard's punishment, prosecutors acknowledged that they do expect some backlash over what some may perceive as a light sentence.
"If we can look toward the community that’s outraged right now, what I’d like to tell them is that we’re here for you, we’re partners," Deputy State's Attorney Billy McDermott told Delmarva Now on Monday. "We’re going to continue to do what we do and if you want to get involved, reach out to the humane society, reach out to animal control, reach out to the many shelters who gave a lot of their time and energy to make sure that these horses who had been mistreated are cared for."
PIlchard's case actually received attention in March 2018, when a local station broadcasted aerial footage of her farm. Images back then showed several dead horses across the property. Following the station's coverage, nearly 100 live horses were removed from the farm and taken to rescues in Maryland and other states.
Almost two months later, Pilchard was indicted on 64 charges related to 16 specific horses, some of which were euthanized. After eight of the charges were dropped, she was convicted this past March on 39 total counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
"We certainly believe in holding people accountable," McDermott said. "We certainly believe in giving voices to those horses who didn’t have voices, which is why we went to court and we left no stone unturned."
The community has since been split on Pilchard's case, with some expressing frustration at what they consider a lenient penalty.
"I think she had good intentions but she should’ve asked for help, and I think she should do some time for it," residents Calvin and Ivy Hamilton told WMDT.