Woman gives up horses after summer incident

FRONT ROYAL – A Warren County woman recently gave up custody of three horses to an equine rescue group after a judge convicted her of animal cruelty.

Denise A. Jensen appeared in Warren County Circuit Court on March 4 to appeal a lower court judge’s ruling that found her guilty of committing cruelty to animals and letting a horse run at large – both misdemeanor offenses. Jensen and her attorney, Jason Ransom told Judge Clifford Athey Jr. that she was withdrawing her appeal. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Samantha Meadows prosecuted the case.

Athey said then he would uphold the lower court judge’s ruling in her case. Athey ordered Jensen to pay restitution totaling $6,265 to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Shenandoah Valley Equine Rescue Network. Jensen also must not possess any horses. Athey scheduled Jensen’s next court date for March 4, 201, to check the status of the restitution payments.

Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Laura Gomez responded to Jensen’s residence July 29 for a report of a horse that had run loose. Gomez states in the criminal complaint filed in the circuit court that she found a brown horse standing in the road with one of its front legs trapped inside the fencing to the pasture. The horse looked like it tried to get back inside the pasture when its leg became caught.

Gomez also filed a petition in General District Court last summer to obtain custody of a brown mare, a brown and white mare and a tan pony. Gomez found a brown mare on the road with one of its front legs tangled in the fencing. Another deputy responded with bolt cutters. Prior to cutting the horse out of the fence, Gomez knocked on the door at the residence and asked emergency dispatchers to try to contact the owner again, the petition states.

Gomez cut the fence to move the horses’ leg. The deputy noted that the horse appeared very thin and all its ribs and hip bones were visible, the petition states. Gomez obtained a search warrant and seized the animals for their safety and lack of care. Old wire and trash appeared spread around the pasture. The horses had a limited amount of grass and evidence of old hay but no new hay available, the petition states. The water for the animals appeared unclean and dark green.

A veterinarian saw the animals on April 1, 2017, and gave the brown mare a body score of 1 or 2 out of 9 while the other mare received a score of 3.5. The mare needed its hooves filed. The pony, while of adequate size and weight, showed signs of founder and its hooves appeared excessively long and chipped, the petition states. The veterinarian indicated the pony’s hooves likely had not been filed in about a year. Gomez provided a photo of the pony to the veterinarian when the animal had previously gotten loose from the pasture. The pony appeared obese in the photo from that time and the veterinarian advised that a lack of food likely caused the animal to lose that much weight.

Gomez states that containment of the horses had been an ongoing problem. Authorities had charged Jensen in 2010 and in May 2017 with letting her horse and pony run at large, Gomez notes. Jensen also was charged for maintenance of the pasture.

“In addition to the above, while Deputy Gomez was hauling Ms. Jensen’s horses on Mary’s Shady Lane, Ms. Jensen further endangered her horses when she came from her lane of travel into Deputy Gomez’ and slammed on her brakes to block Deputy Gomez from continuing to drive,” the petition states. “This caused Deputy Gomez to slam on her breaks (sic) to avoid having a head on collision with Ms. Jensen. The horses were then forced forward in the trailer.”

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