Animal cruelty charges filed in Ashtabula County horse incident

JEFFERSON, Ohio – Another animal abuse case involving animals left to cope with a thick pack of accumulated manure has been uncovered in Ashtabula County.

Thomas Cole, 58, of Monroe Township, Ashtabula County Extension 4-H youth development program assistant, pled not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty and neglect when he was arraigned June 14 in Eastern County Court.

Cole has been in his position with OSU Extension since last fall.

He is charged with abusing two draft horses seized by the Ashtabula County Humane Society and county officials from a small shed on his property on Route 7.

According to Assistant County Prosecutor Katherine Riedel, the humane society received an anonymous tip that the horses had not been out of the shed for some time.

Horses removed.

Upon inspection, the two horses were removed from the property May 29 and put into foster care.

According to Riedel, who accompanied officials to the site to serve the warrant, the two horses, a gray gelding and a brown mare, were found in a small three-sided shed.

Riedel said there was about 2 feet of manure on the floor, and the draft horses standing on it had their rumps almost against the ceiling of the shed. There was barely room to get them out, she said.

Riedel said the horses had hay and water, but were malnourished and in poor condition.

A pretrial hearing has been set for July 5.

Animal cruelty and neglect is a misdemeanor charge. Each count carries a maximum fine of $750 and 90 days in jail.

(You can contact Jackie Cummins at 800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at


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