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Newton horse owner charged with animal cruelty

Prevent animal cruelty.  Help is available for horses in need.
Prevent animal cruelty. Help is available for horses in need.Photo: Lori D Roets

Forty-three year old Annie Elizabeth Stein has been charged on February 23, 2010, with animal cruelty after multiple horses in her care were found dead at the property she leases of Highway 10 in Newton, North Carolina.  Three remaining  horses in very poor condition were seized at the time of Stein's arrest and are being rehabilitated at other area farms.

A MySpace page for Annie Stein - last updated in May 2009 - shows her affliated with TouchPoint Equine Center, whose focus is stated to be "family oriented equine fun".  Among the services listed for TouchPoint are "therapeutic riding for special needs children and adults, horse massage therapy, trail riding, lessons, boarding and sales, and birthday parties".

The Hickory Daily Record reports the horses located on Stein's property had no access to food, water or medical care.  Michael Poovey, the caretaker at an adjacent property, first reported Stein on February 10 when he noticed signs of neglect, including horses stripping the bark off tree trunks for food.  One horse observed lying in the field was subsequently found to be deceased by investigators who responded to Poovey's call the same day.  Severely malnourished before death, he lay frozen in the field.    Three weeks later, his body still remains in the field despite orders from the Sheriff's Department to bury him.  Investigators have discovered the remains of an additional horse on the property covered by a tarp and skeletons of at least four others.  Stein claims the two horses simply died of colic and denies any knowledge of the skeletons. 

Stein has been charged with intentionally starving an animal - a misdemenor unless malcious intent is proven.  She was charged based on the first horse found.  There are no plans to charge her on the other remains.  She was released on Tuesday, February 24 on $500 bond.  Her next court date is March 1.

Police investigators indicated this was not the first time they have encountered Ms. Stein, citing warnings given  to her after previous horse-related complaints over the last two years.  Given police statements that Ms. Stein was being monitored as a result of the past complaints, it appears a re-evaluation  in the process for handling animal neglect and cruelty cases in Catawba County is warranted. 

Debra Huss is now caring for one of the surviving horses, an 11-year old gelding, said by examining veterinarians to be at least 50% underweight at only 450 pounds. Covered in rain rot and severely malnourished, the horse struggled to get to his feet for transport. Vets gave him a 50-50 chance of making it. Huss says he is improving thanks to what appears to be a strong will to survive. Introducing a malnourished horse to food and water is a slow and deliberate process, as too much of a good thing can overwhelm their system very rapidly. If Stein is found guilty of animal cruelty charges, Catawba County will reimburse the expenses for those individuals nursing the horses back to health. For Huss, while reimbursement will be welcomed, this isn't about the money. It's about helping an equine in need and preventing it from happening again.

Horse owners unable to care for their animals are urged to contact an equine rescue association for assistance.  The United States Equine Rescue League's (USERL) Central Piedmont region services the greater Charlotte area, including Catawba County.  In Union County, horse owners in need can contact USERL or the Carolinas Equine Rescue Association (CERA)

Hickory Daily Record article, with photo
WSOC-TV article, with video

Comments

  • Janet Ford 4 years ago

    This just breaks my heart. Horses are magnificent creatures. We have 5 rescues that share our home. Their pasts are all quite sad but we strive to give them much brighter futures. It's nearly magical to watch them romp and play.

  • Debbie Huss 4 years ago

    Trust me she never had a horse on her pasture that looked this good. To me the People that rented her the pasture are just as gulity they could look out there windows and see the starving animals. They also have done nothing

  • Kathee Wozniak, Charlotte Pet Friendly Examiner 4 years ago

    Thank you for posting this!!! A friend of mine had her horse there and sold it to another border, she is trying to find him (Joe) as he was shipped overseas. She knows what happened to her horse & many others. We are trying to get as many people to be at the hearing & as many animal organizations, this isnt this person's first time, she keeps moving from place to place and continues to make money off people and harm horses.

  • Charlotte Equine Examiner 4 years ago

    Reply to Debbie Huss: I don't have rights to use any photos of the three seized animals currently. If you can provide me photo that is OK to use of the horse you are nursing back to health, I would very much like to replace the photo I used to accompany the article. You can send it to the e-mail address in my bio. Thanks. Lori Roets - Charlotte Equine Examiner