With support from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Union County Sheriff's Office and local prosecutor today announce animal cruelty charges against Lake Butler residents Cheryl and Richard Ervin for 37 misdemeanor counts and four felony counts of animal cruelty. Pablo Rivas, the owner of a horse being kept on the Ervin property, is also being charged with one count of felony cruelty for neglecting to address the animal's medical issues.
The investigation was set into motion by the Union County Sheriff's Office in late October, and they subsequently requested ASPCA assistance to investigate the conditions of the animals. Upon arriving on the property, investigators discovered dozens of horses living in inadequate conditions and exhibiting signs of neglect that required immediate treatment.
On October 28, the ASPCA Field Investigations & Response and Veterinary Forensics teams were called in to assist local authorities with evidence collection and the removal of 50 horses from the property. The ASPCA subsequently transported most of the horses from the property to an equine hospital where ASPCA experts conducted medical exams and provided daily care until they were placed with equine rescues.
“We would like to thank the ASPCA and the many law enforcement agencies involved in this complex investigation into animal cruelty in our county – we take these cases very seriously and animal cruelty will not be tolerated,” said Sheriff Brad Whitehead from the Union County Sheriff's Office. “We have worked very closely with the ASPCA and thank them for their expertise so we could proceed with charges and prosecution. We have continued to receive updates on the conditions of the horses and the amazing job of the animal welfare groups that brought each of them back to good health.”
The ASPCA placed horses with the following Florida-based equine rescues:
- RVR Horse Rescue (Riverview)
- Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation (Palm City)
- Horses without Humans (Bell)
- Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (Cocoa)
- Kentucky Humane Society (Louisville)
“The ASPCA Equine Welfare program is focused on helping at-risk horses transition to new careers and homes, and we're grateful for these equine rescues for helping these vulnerable horses move on to the next chapter of their lives,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “While some horses may need more time to heal, we're confident that they're in a better place now and look forward to seeing these beautiful animals stewarded into their next homes.”
The ASPCA is focused on ensuring horses nationwide have good welfare, which includes working to help at-risk horses safely transition to new careers and homes, increase safety net support for horse owners, and enhance anti-cruelty efforts. Additionally, the ASPCA supports humane legislation and advocacy to improve equine welfare, provides targeted grants, and rescues horses impacted by disasters and in cruelty cases. For more information, please visit www.aspca.org/equinewelfare.
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