A Florida veterinarian and her husband are facing multiple animal cruelty charges after law enforcement authorities seized 30 horses from their Lakeland property.
A written statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said agricultural crimes detectives responded to a tip on Aug. 17 about several malnourished animals residing on property owned by Gail Nichols, DVM, and her husband, Paul Craig Smith. Upon arrival investigators found 28 Miniature and two full-size horses residing on dirt pastures without access to hay, grass, or water. A veterinary investigation revealed that three horses had severely overgrown hooves, including one with one overgrown hoof facing backward and one facing forward. Another horse was only able to walk on three legs after sustaining an unrelated injury.
All the horses appeared emaciated and in poor health, the statement said.
The horses were subsequently removed to the Polk County Animal Control facility, where three Miniature Horses were euthanized due to their condition, the statement said.
Eight allegedly neglected dogs and two parrots were also seized from the property.
On Aug. 22, authorities arrested and charged Nichols and Smith with three counts of felony animal cruelty, one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty, and five counts of confinement of animals without sufficient food, water, or shelter.
The pair were booked into the Polk County Jail and released on bond. Neither was available for comment.
The case remains pending.