Man pleads not guilty to 15 counts of animal cruelty after 49 horses found dead on N.Ky. farm

BUTLER, Ky. -- A Northern Kentucky man charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty and 49 counts of failing to dispose of carcasses after officers found 49 dead horses on his Pendleton County farm pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday.

Authorities were called to Larry Browning's farm April 7 after receiving an anonymous tip of a dead horse in a field.

Animal control officers said they also removed 14 out of 32 horses that were still alive on the farm in the 2200 block of KY-177 in Butler, Ky. The 14 horses removed were emaciated, officials said.

Officers said there was not enough hay on the farm to feed all 81 horses.

According to Animals’ Angels Inc., a non-profit organization that investigates cases of animal abuse in the United States, this incident wasn’t the first time Browning was accused of mistreating his animals.

Animals’ Angels reports investigators found about 100 horses “very thin, emaciated, lethargic and coughing” on Browning’s farm in 2011.

“Some were penned in an area used for manure disposal, standing on ground covered with manure and urine, their hay thrown on top of the filth,” the report states.

Animals' Angels investigators said they obtained photographs taken at Browning’s farm on June 15, 2011 that show “extremely emaciated horses.”

A Kentucky Department of Agriculture inspector later visited the property and reported there was "nothing alarming” and complaints were "unfounded," according to the Animals' Angels report .

Kathy Rice, who lives near the farm, said Browning is a horse trader and has owned the Butler property for more than 20 years.

She said she bought horses from Browning in the past.

“He's been doing this a long time… it’s his livelihood,” Rice said. "Any horse that I have bought from him has been healthy, strong and everything.”

Rice said people who cannot take care of their horses often drop them off at Browning's farm.

MORE: Man with 49 dead horses on farm claims innocence, says horse owners 'thank' him

She said Browning might have become overwhelmed by the number of horses taken to his property.

“People come by who can't afford their horses anymore and just turn them loose in the middle of the night,” she said.

Rice said Browning feeds the horses well and disagreed with the charges against him.

“He has hay out here all the time,” she said. “He grains them every day."

WCPO Web Editor Maxim Alter contributed to this report.

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