Joseph Bowers, Jr. has been found guilty of 37 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty by Judge Mark Thomas in the Washington County District Court.

On January 22, 2016 field service officers for the Humane Society of Washington County (the county’s official animal control division) seized two horses from Bowers, charging him at that time with 12 counts of animal cruelty for failure to provide food, water, veterinary care, and causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

On April 1, 2016, the HSWC received a complaint concerning the welfare of additional horses owned by Bowers. A properly executed search and seizure warrant was then served on April 3rd, and this time a total of five horses were removed from two separate properties. Of those seized, some were found emaciated inside of a barn, standing in up to two feet of manure and urine. Two of the emaciated horses were pregnant and due within weeks. Several horses had urine scald on their bodies. They were infested with parasites and in critical condition. Bowers was then charged with an additional 25 counts of neglect.

On October 24, Bowers was sentenced to a 90-day suspended sentence on all charges for a total of 21 months. He must serve a three-year period of supervised probation with all fines waived. Bowers had to forfeit all the seized horses, but will be allowed to maintain one horse per two acres of land as part of his probation. However, the judge also required that Bowers receive a mental evaluation and required HSWC to inspect all properties owned or leased by Bowers, including inside of barns.

“I think this case has set a precedent for large animals, especially horses, in Washington County,” Field Services Officer Crystal Mowery said. “There is a standard of care that must be upheld for these animals, and if not, there will be consequences.”