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Just the sheer volume of dead animals and he [Larry Browning] didn't see anything wrong," says former Pendleton County Animal Control Officer Scott Pracht. The Kentucky animal control investigator is calling it quits after what he says is a disappointing outcome of "the worst case of animal abuse" he has seen in his 10-year career.
Officer Pracht resigned from his position with the county Monday after Larry Browning was offered a plea deal that allows him to continue owning five horses. He says, "it is terrible to allow him to keep horses."
The grisly discovery of 49 horses' bodies in various states of decay were found on Browning's property by Officer Pracht, after authorities received a tip in March 2014. Fifteen emaciated horses were removed. They have since been adopted to new homes.
Officer Pracht's report states he believes Browning wantonly neglected his horses. "Mr. Browning did not provide adequate food by not providing enough hay or quality hay. Also there was not adequate grass and no grain. Mr. Browning also failed to give these horses proper vet care by not providing any with vet care. Mr. Browning... had very little to no drinkable water due to dead horses being in the water ways."
As a result of Officer Pracht's investigation, horse trader Browning was charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty and 49 counts of failing to dispose of carcasses within 48 hours.
Pendleton County Attorney Jeff Dean was scheduled to take the case to jury trial this week, but a plea deal was reached between the prosecutor's office and Browning. "I didn't have a chance to present evidence to try to get a conviction. The judge and jury never saw the evidence. This lies solely on the county attorney," says Officer Pracht. "It is a waste of tax dollars."
Browning entered an Alford plea to four counts of failing to dispose of carcasses. Under the Alford plea, Browning is not admitting guilt, just that there is enough evidence to convict him. He received a sentence of 30-days jail suspended, unless he is found in contempt of court, 18 months diversion, and a lien was put on his residence until he pays $7500 in restitution, according to the judge's office.
Browning is allowed to have a total of five horses, which are noted in the court record and cannot be switched out. According to Officer
Pracht, Browning is violating his agreement. "He should already be in contempt of court. I notified the prosecutor's office Friday that he has seven horses. We'll see what they do about it."
The 2014 case against Browning was the first time the kill buyer faced charges despite numerous allegations of animal cruelty. Officer Pracht says 99 dead horses have been removed from the Browning place over the years.
Kentucky ranks as the worst state for animal protection in the U.S., according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Officer Pracht worked for Pendleton County Animal Control part-time before his resignation. "I did it for the animals." He continues his full-time position in Kenton County with animal control where he enforces state laws and county ordinances pertaining to the welfare and control of domestic, exotic and wild animals.
Our messages to Prosecutor Dean have not been returned.