CHATFIELD — A Chatfield man will face multiple felony charges for the deaths of horses on his property.
Jeremiah Smaglik, 42, of rural Chatfield is scheduled to make his first appearance Monday for felony counts of animal cruelty and animal torture, and misdemeanor counts of the same.
Smaglik also faces misdemeanor charges of animal torture, mistreatment of animals by depriving of food or shelter, mistreatment of animals by unwholesome enclosure and cruelty to animals.
According to the complaint filed in district court, the Fillmore County Sheriff’s office responded to a complaint Oct. 29 last year that at least four horses were being kept in a small pen with no roof or shelter.
A lieutenant from the sheriff’s office who responded to the call found four horses in the pen that were thin. One had a blanket on and was limping, according to the officer’s report.
Smaglik allegedly told the officer the horses were rescues from a “kill pen” and they were thin from their treatment there.
On March 25, the sheriff’s office received another complaint that there were four horses on Smaglik’s property that appeared emaciated. A deputy responding to that call wasn’t able to get a hold of Smaglik but did see four horses that appeared “very skinny.” The next morning, the office received another call from the same person reporting they had noticed two dead horses on the property.
Sheriff’s office investigators and an investigator from the Minnesota Animal Humane Society met March 27 at Smaglik’s property, where he agreed to show investigators around. They found seven horses so emaciated their ribs and spines were showing, two dead horses on the lawn and a donkey.
Smaglik agreed to turn over the horses to the Minnesota Animal Humane Society, according to court documents. The horses were taken to Anoka Equine Veterinary Services, where staff found all the horses had lice, infections, worms and other parasites. One horse, estimated about 20 years old, was euthanized there. A necropsy performed at the Chatfield Veterinary Clinic found the horses died due to malnutrition and/or starvation.
According to the complaint, five of the horses were purchased from Ryon’s Rescue in Cannon Falls between July and September last year. Officials at Ryon’s told investigators that the five horses were healthy and of good weight at the time of sale, according to court documents.
Smaglik faces up to two years in prison on each of the felony charges and a year in prison on the gross misdemeanor charges.