A Lakeland couple faces animal cruelty charges after 18 neglected horses were seized from their property, including one that died from malnutrition.
Polk County deputies on Monday arrested Jacob Caudy, 28, and Emily Cowper, 24, of Broken Arrow Trail South in Lakeland.
According to the arrest affadavits, the couple had been paid more than $1,200 by Anita Tucker, who lives in California, to care for her 8-year-old thoroughbred named Dixie Boy.
On April 24, deputies found the horse in a skeletal state, confined to a fenced compound without sufficient food and water.
The suspects told deputies they had taken the horse to a vet a week earlier, but deputies say that is not true, and the horse was turned over to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies say 19 horses were seized, one of which Caudy said he owned and was lying on the ground for at least a day, but died while on the property while being treated by a veterinarian.
Deputies also seized one dog, one cat, one kitten, 14 snakes, two iguanas, one African grey parrot, and one lovebird.
Seven of the seized horses are being treated at Polk County Animal Control, 10 of the more healthy horses are at a sheriff’s office stockade in Bartow, and Dixie Boy is at Hope Equine Rescue in Auburndale.
“This man and woman not only neglected horses, leading to the death of one, they stole money and lied to law enforcement,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “They don’t deserve to have any animals in their possession, ever again.”
During a search, deputies located a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s badge, which Caudy told deputies he stole from a residence while visiting a friend whose husband is a Hillsborough deputy.
Caudy remains in Polk County Jail on $23,750 bond, while Cowper was released Tuesday after posting $26,000 bond. Each was jailed on one count of felony animal cruelty, 45 counts of confining an animal without food or water, and other counts.
Both face additional charges, pending the outcome of the investigation, deputies say.