After an ongoing investigation, Tony and Nita Norman were served a seizure warrant Aug. 13 for cruelty to animals by the Young County Sheriff’s Department. Twelve mini horses and two donkeys were seized from the property, located at the corner of Highway 16 North and Rocky Mound Road that day.
According to the Burnham Veterinary Hospital report, the livestock were malnourished, scoring a 2 or 3 on the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System, with excessively long hooves. The scoring system measures the health of a horse, with 1 being emaciated and 9 being excessively fat.
The horses and donkeys were very thin with faintly discernible bone structures, prominent ribs and spines, protruding hip bones and accentuated necks and tailbones.
Young County Attorney Dayne Miller represented the State of Texas during the cruelty hearing in court on Aug. 23. The Normans contested the state’s allegations that the animals have been unreasonably deprived of food, care or shelter.
The court ruled them in violation of Texas Health and Safety Code 821.022, which is animal cruelty.
The Normans agreed to forfeit ownership of all of the equine animals, and they were not charged with a criminal offense.
At the hearing, the Wilbarger Humane Society was awarded custody of seven miniature horses and the donkeys that were owner-surrendered.
Five of the miniature horses, one a stud and the rest mares, were released to their owner, Marie Bartlett of Oklahoma.
Barnett originally loaned the horses to the Normans in hopes of producing more horses.
In court, Bartlett showed photo evidence that the minis were in good condition prior to the loan.
Wilbarger Humane Society representative Susan Robinson said that the evidence of the lack of necessary food, shelter and water was obvious. Robinson will care for the horses in the Wilbarger shelter and attempt to help improve their condition.