Police investigate abuse of horses on public property


by Diana Zoga / News 4


Posted on October 31, 2012 at 8:24 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 11:45 AM

KINLOCH, Mo (KMOV.com) -- A St. Louis County man is charged with abusing two horses, that were kept on a piece of public property in the north St. Louis County community of Kinloch. Now there are questions of whether the city looked the other way in the treatment of animals.

The Humane Society of Missouri and St. Louis County Police picked up the horses on Wednesday afternoon, after an arrest warrant was issued for 44-year-old Eric Hearton, the alleged owner of the animals.

Police say the horses didn’t have enough food and were kept in filthy, makeshift stables that provided little shelter from the elements.

“There’s exposed nails, studs, and things that are broken that would be a hazard to the horse,” said Officer Robert Rinck with the St. Louis County Police Department’s problem property unit.

A probable cause statement, filed in court, states that the horses are emaciated and that officers didn’t find food, water or adequate shelter present. The horses were also in “dire need” of hoof care.

When News 4’s Diana Zoga reached Hearton (the suspect) by phone on Wednesday evening, he insisted he didn’t own the seized horses. He said those horses belonged to someone else. Hearton said he kept horses on that property in the past, but not now. Hearton also said that he didn’t have a lease agreement with the city, but that city hall told him “it wouldn’t be a problem” if he kept horses on the city’s land.

When News 4 attempted to reach city officials, we found the city offices closed. Kinloch police officers, next door, say city hall closes at 2 p.m.

We’ll follow up when we reach Kinloch officials about the state of the property and the horses.

In the meantime, the Humane Society of Missouri is caring for the horses. A disposition hearing is set for November 21st in St. Louis County. A judge is expected to determine if the agency will keep the horses. If the Humane Society is awarded the animals, they will be available for adoption, said Jean Jay - spokesperson for the Humane Society of Missouri.