Animal advocates hope for stricter laws after S. Utah horse death

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jan 20, 2014

CEDAR CITY -- The death of a young horse found frozen to the ground earlier this month in Iron County has animal rights advocates questioning the strictness of animal cruelty laws.

Animal control officers found the 1-year-old Appaloosa on Jan. 2 and affectionately gave her the name Elsa. She and her mother, Anna, were taken to the Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses to heal. Rescue founder Ginger Grimes said Elsa’s strong will kept her alive 17 days, but in the end the malnourishment was too much. Saturday Elsa’s vet confirmed she wouldn’t recover.

“They took her vital signs and things like that and he was pretty sure that things were probably shutting down inside,” Grimes said of that day. “She left with everybody at her side. Everybody was there with her so she didn’t die alone.”

Volunteers say one of the most touching things about Elsa’s story was how much it touched other people -- not just in Southern Utah, but all around the world.”

“(Messages from) Germany and New Zealand,” said volunteer Sunny Smith. “And donating money. The comments that they made, it’s just amazing. That’s been the best part of this whole thing, is to see how much people really care.”

Grimes said that’s why they’re taking Elsa’s story to Utah lawmakers, hoping for stricter animal cruelty laws. The Humane Society of Utah is holding their Humane Lobby Day on Feb. 6.

“Something needs to change,” Grimes said. “People need to be held responsible.”

The rally will try and persuade lawmakers to take up the issue. Under the current law, only abuse to service animals could result in a felony charge.

Elsa and Anna’s owner, Sonn Kent Berrett, will appear in the Iron County Justice Court for an arraignment March 25.

Berrett has been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, two counts of failure to obtain a dog license and two counts of failure to obtain rabies vaccination.

All charges are Class B misdemeanors.

For more information on the Humane Society’s Humane Lobby day, click here: