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Area woman accused of abusing horse

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By STUART CASSIDY

Staff Writer

EVANSTON – A call from a concerned citizen about a dead horse in Evanston led to the arrest of a woman for several animal-related offenses. 

Kathleen A. Norton, 56, formerly of 8998 N. Old Lamar Highway was charged March 18 and later arrested for neglect of a vertebrate animal, harboring a non-immunized dog and failure to dispose of a dead animal. 

Deputies were called to the residence after Jo Sodrel of Horse Rescue South, based in Perry County, reported the dead animal was located in a barn. Sodrel requested that authorities check the welfare of other animals on the property. 

According to a probable-cause affidavit for arrest, Sodrel was alerted to the alleged presence of the horse by a real-estate agent who was preparing to list the home and property for sale. Several other horses were also reportedly on the property and in poor condition. 

Norton was renting the property but was allegedly undergoing eviction proceedings. 

The property’s owner, Carl Isom, was located in Kentucky and authorized investigators to enter the property. 

Deputies initially met Isom, Sodrel and two other members from the horse rescue at the residence. 

According to the report, when deputies arrived, a horse was seen lying in mud near a barn. Spencer County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelli Reinke reported that as the horse attempted to stand, it was weak, thin and had injuries to both its front legs. 

According to an assessment by horse-rescue personnel, the steed was in extremely poor condition, rating 1.5 on a scale which rates a horse’s health from 1-9, with 9 being top shape. 

The dead horse was found in a barn when investigators photographed the area. Reports allege the horse had been there for some time and likely suffered as it succumbed, based on indications that it struggled.

Another three stalls in the barn held three more horses and three donkeys. Little food was present, with just one stall allegedly containing any. Water, where present, was dirty. 

Four more horses were observed grazing in a nearby pasture. Their condition was reportedly better since they had escaped a fenced-in area and could gain access to better food. 

Sodrel reported several previous claims of horse abuse came from the same location. She could not, however, estimate how long the animals had gone without care. 

A search warrant was issued for the home March 19. According to the report, the animals’ owners had not been at the property to care for the animals since the initial inspection. 

All the animals, both inside and out, were removed from the property. 

The equines were loaded with assistance from the horse rescue and transported by trailer to their facility in Cannelton. 

Several of the animals allegedly were found to have injuries to legs and hooves. Three specifically were initially listed in poor condition but are now improving under the rescue’s care.

Three of the seven recovered mares were pregnant.

Sodrel’s outlook for the horses is optimistic. 

She said after six months to a year at the facility, the horses could be adopted to good homes. 

Anyone wishing to help in their care should contact the horse rescue at (812) 547-2071 or send contributions to Horse Rescue South Inc., P.O. Box 103, Cannelton, IN. 47520.

Within the home, nine dogs of various breeds were also found. One of the dogs was found to have a recent wound and was bleeding. 

The report alleges the animals had no food or water, the floor was covered in feces and an “unbearable” odor was emanating from the house. 

The dogs were crated and taken to the Spencer County Animal Shelter.

The dogs are up for adoption there. 

Anyone interested should call the shelter at (812) 362-8558. Adoption fees may vary depending on vaccination status.

Norton was officially arrested April 4 and was released from the Spencer County Law Enforcement Center the following day after posting a $1,005 bond.