Laura Maciel, 51, was arraigned on one count of animal cruelty, Thursday based on an allegation she starved a horse and left it in poorly groomed condition. Maciel appeared in person in Edgartown District Court, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutor Matt Palazzolo asked that Maciel’s bail be revoked in an ongoing OUI matter, and an ongoing trespassing and destruction of property matter, because of the new charge. Judge Barnes denied that request, and set Maciel’s bail at $250. She was also ordered to stay away from the horse in question, and from Tashmoo Farm in Tisbury.
On Oct. 26, Palazzolo told the court, one or more Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) officers responded to Tashmoo Farm in Tisbury for a report of a “skinny horse not being properly taken care of.” Palazzolo identified the horse as Merlin, and noted he was found with “overgrown hooves” and a “thin body,” and was also “quidding,” which he described as “spitting out hay due to [the] poor quality of his teeth.”
Palazzo said a veterinarian was able to score Merlin on the Henneke Horse Body Condition Scoring System, and said an “ideal” score was 5, while a 1 shows emaciation and a 9 denotes obesity. “The horse scored a 2,” Palazzolo said.
Maciel allegedly, and in “adamant” terms, told authorities she had been taking care of the horse at night, and that’s why nobody saw her at the farm, Palazzolo said.
During another examination of the horse, authorities found “fecal matter built up on the horse’s blanket,” Palazzolo said. This was attributed to “chronic untreated diarrhea.”
Officers eventually obtained a search warrant, Palazzolo said, seized the horse, and charged Maciel.
Palazzolo added Maciel had allegedly gone to the farm during the MSPCA investigation, and “fellow boarders had felt threatened by her presence.”
While Maciel did appear in court Thursday, Palazzolo said she had “multiple defaults” on her record.
In addition to keeping away from Merlin and the farm, Palazzolo asked that Maciel be ordered not to possess any animals. This was denied.
Maciel’s attorney for bail purposes, Matt Jackson, requested Maciel either be released on personal recognizance or $200 bail for the abuse charge, and that revocation be denied on the other charges. Jackson said Maciel was under a lot of stress, and cared about Merlin. While Judge Barnes emphasized the records showed that Maciel repeatedly showed up late to court, he nonetheless ruled closely along the lines of what Jackson had asked for.
Maciel told the court she is deeply fond of Merlin.
“It is noted you love Merlin,” Judge Barnes said.
Maciel is slated to be back in court on March 15.