MALVERN, Ark. (KTHV) - One man faces criminal charges after an animal rights group says two horses were severely malnourished under his care.
The group "Stop Animal Cruelty in Hot Spring County" says they received a tip that the horses were being abused. One animal died; the other was rescued and is in foster care.
The man who was reportedly responsible for the horses, Tommy Kirkpatrick, 47, is charged with two counts of animal cruelty.
Anna Plese is with "Stop Animal Cruelty in Hot Spring County."
"There was no food or really water for the horses. They're thin. You'll see their ribs, their hip bones, facial bones," Plese said.
Her organization responded after an anonymous call on their hotline.
"When we got there [Wednesday] afternoon, one of the horses was already down and he was walking around," Plese said.
The older horse, in her mid 20's, had to be euthanized.
"We do come across cases like this quite often," added Plese.
The younger horse, only a few years old, is now being looked after at a farm in Hot Spring County.
Sgt. Jerry McAnear of the Hot Spring County Sheriff's Office said they responded after the call from the rescue organization.
"Deputies noted two horses that did appear to be ill or malnourished they contacted our lieutenant who is our resident horse expert and he also responded to the scene," Sgt. McAnear said. "Tommy Kirkpatrick, age 47, was issued citations for cruelty to animals."
Kirkpatrick told THV he only had ownership of the horses for two weeks.
"They actually belonged to a friend of mine. She moved from where she was at and had no place to put the horses. So she asked to put them here in my pasture and I said yes," Kirkpatrick said.
When asked for his response to citizens wanting his charges upgraded to a felony for the malnourishment, and that he should go to prison...he responded no.
Kirkpatrick disagreed with the deputies report the horses had inadequate water and inadequate food.
Law Enforcement at the Hot Spring County Sheriff's Office said they could not charge Kirkpatrick with a felony offense because malnourishment does not mean torture under Arkansas law.
"It's very tragic because it doesn't have to happen. All people have to do is feed their animals and if they can't afford to, there are rescues that will take the horses in," Plese said.
The rescued horse will be up for adoption soon.
As for Kirkpatrick, he plans to plead "not guilty" in court. He could face up to $1,000 in fines.