A rural Chatfield man accused of mistreating horses at his home made his first appearance in court Monday.
Jeremiah Smaglik, 42, was released on a $10,000 unconditional bond pending trial on multiple counts of animal cruelty and animal torture.
Smaglik faces up to two years in prison on each felony charge of animal torture and animal cruelty and a year in prison on the gross misdemeanor charges of the same. He also faces misdemeanor charges of animal torture, mistreatment of animals by depriving of food or shelter, mistreatment of animals with unwholesome enclosure and misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
According to court documents, Smaglik kept animals in unsanitary conditions that officials from the Fillmore County sheriff’s office observed in multiple visits to his home when responding to complaints beginning Oct. 29 last year.
A March 26 complaint from someone who said they saw dead horses on his property prompted a visit by sheriff’s office investigators and the Minnesota Animal Humane Society.
They found seven horses so emaciated their ribs and spines were showing. Smaglik also had two dead horses on the lawn. A necropsy performed at the Chatfield Veterinary Clinic found the horses died due to malnutrition and/or starvation.
Smaglik turned the horses over to the Minnesota Animal Humane Society’s custody. They were transferred to Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, where staff there found the horses had various infections and parasites. One of the horses was euthanized there.
A statement released by the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition applauded the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office for its work investigating the treatment of the horses.
“This was a catastrophic case of extreme neglect and cruelty,” the statement said. “Three horses died from the effects of starvation — they suffered for an unspeakably long time and during some of the coldest winter months.”
Smaglik is scheduled to make an initial appearance on the charges July 1.