By Diane Madigan
Independent Court Reporter
On Oct. 5, Sumpter Township resident Gary Louis Guenther, 69, was arrested for Cruelty to 10 or More Animals.
Under Michigan law this is a felony and if convicted, Guenther could spend up to 4 years in prison, with a fine up to $5,000 and up to an additional 500 hours of community service.
According to Sumpter Township Police Detective John Toth, on Oct. 5 Sumpter Police Officers Danielle Buccellato and Colleen Carefelle responded to an animal-at-large complaint in the 26000 block of Sherwood Road. On the scene there were 13 horses running loose. The officers were able to determine where they belonged.
They found one horse in a metal corral containing 3 feet of feces.
The officers took pictures of the animals, one of which was hard to tell was a horse. All the animals had issues and were very, very thin, said Det. Toth. At the conclusion of that meeting the police were told not to come back.
Sumpter police secured a search warrant to bring in a veterinarian to evaluate the animals. Dr. James Romine, DVM from the Saline Vet Clinic, was contacted to meet them at the property to evaluate the animals. Dr. Romine has owned horses for many years.
Dr. Romine conducted an evaluation of all the animals giving each a Body Condition Score (BCS). On a score of 1 to 9, with 9 being over-weight 5 being ideal and 1 being near death, none of the animals were in the ideal range; they were all low.
According to Detective Toth, when they served the search warrant, the police walked the property and found animal remains of a goat and one horse in a burn pile. Additional skeletal remains of goats and a cat were found alongside the burn pile.
Toth also added, upon receiving the vet’s report on the 13 horses and 4 dogs, they learned the animals were “really bad off”. According to Michigan Law, once an individual is arrested for animal cruelty all animals can be seized.
Working with Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Rajesh K. Prasad, Sumpter got the arrest warrant for animal cruelty. Prasad is the co-founder of Wayne County’s Animal Protection Unit, having a 98% conviction rate.
Detective Toth said there will be a civil hearing which will be a forfeiture of the animals and a criminal case running parallel.
Guenther, of 26551 Sherwood Road, was scheduled to have his preliminary exam on Dec. 11 at 34th District Court in Romulus. Bond was set at $10,000/10%
The horses are being cared for by Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary and Loving Arm Rescue Ranch. Those wishing to make a donation to help with the care of the horses may visit them online. All donations are tax-deductible.
By Diane Madigan