Charges dropped in horse abuse case

Published 10:47 pm Friday, March 3, 2006

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS - A former Van Buren County woman charged with 14 counts of animal abuse to horses pleaded guilty to two counts in Cass County District Court.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jason Ronning said that 12 of the counts were dropped in exchange for the plea last week by Penny Lynn Harlan, 47, whose address was not released. She was scheduled for trial Feb. 23.
Following the plea, Cass County Animal Control officers removed 31 horses from a Milton Township farm on Redfield Road owned by Shari Weidman where the horses were placed by county officials last fall. Eighteen of the horses were taken to a stable at Camp Bellowood in Union, and the others were taken to unknown places.
The Cass County Prosecutor's office and Cass County Animal Control did a continuous investigation of the abused animals, according to Ronning. Weidman has pleaded to the public for monetary donations to help take care of the animals plus feed, fencing and barn supplies.
Harlan was taken into custody at the Cass County Animal Shelter on Oct. 31 following her statement to animal control officers. Her arrest stemmed from a complaint and investigation about the condition of the animals. The horses were then seized pursuant to a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Ronning said restitution against Harlan is being determined and sentencing is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. March 23 in District Court before Judge Paul Deats.