Stearns Cited for Animal Cruelty

Article published by: Jessica S Chambers, Planet Jackson Hole.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – A Teton County Deputy Sheriff cited Forest Stearns, the local resident accused of tying up his horse in a fashion many deemed inhumane, for animal cruelty today. The citation is a misdemeanor in the State of Wyoming.

The incident that started the investigation into the charge of animal cruelty occurred on Tuesday, August 8th. Law enforcement was notified of Stearns’s actions by a neighbor, who came upon the property to find his horse on its side, tied to the ground. The horse later died.

In a press release from today, Teton County Sherriff’s Office said on August 25th, Deputy Doug Raffelson interviewed a witness to the incident involving Stearns tying the horse to the ground. The witness had left town for a backpacking trip after the incident and only returned this week. According to the press release, “the witness was able to provide credible evidence that the horse was tied to the ground for a minimum of three hours.”

Initially, TCSO was uncertain there were grounds to issue Stearns a citation, as Wyoming statutes provide definitions for animal cruelty that did not immediately appear to qualify Stearns’s actions as cruel.

A witness recorded footage of the incident, with Stearns in the background and the horse tied to the ground, on her phone, later posting the video to Facebook, triggering outrage from many community members. The witness later returned to Stearns’s property and saw the horse had died.

Stearns was issued a misdemeanor citation and is scheduled for an August 31, 2017 court date. The case will be forwarded to the Teton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for the possible filing of the charges.

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