Two Lecanto men charged with animal cruelty to 6 horses

Animal control officers with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation into allegations of animal cruelty, July 9, at the Lecanto residence of Edwin Hedberg, 71, and John Jason Hedberg.

Several complaints had been made that the six horses at the residence were in poor condition, and one of the horses was supposed to be ‘put down’ (euthanized). When the animal control officer arrived at the residence, both men came outside and argued with her, so she called for backup support. When a deputy arrived, the men shouted that he was trespassing. The deputy explained to the men that they were there to conduct an animal cruelty investigation due to complaints.

John Hedberg told the officers that he was the property owner, but Edwin Hedberg owned two of the horses on the property, and that both were responsible for the horses’ care. Edwin Hedberg told the officers that he kept the horses’ food at a nearby residence.

One horse, who was lying down in a paddock in “extremely poor condition,” the report stated, labored to get up when the officers approached. The horse had a large, swollen wound that was approximately 8 inches round, on one of his knees. The horse was extremely thin, severely dehydrated, and had pressure sores on his protruding hip bones due to spending extended periods of time lying in a prone position, the report stated.

Another horse in a back paddock was in a similar state of neglect. Neither of the men could give a veterinarian’s name or say when the horses had been seen by one. The other four horses had severe slipper hooves and were in desperate need of a farrier’s attention (trimning the hooves). Edwin Hedberg stated that the horses’ hooves had never been trimmed. The horses were contained in a small paddock that had an “enormous amount of manure,” and all six horses had manure packed in their hooves.

A veterinarian examined the two horses in the worst condition, and he gave them a body score of 1 or 2, with 2 being generous, the report stated. The veterinarian explained that body condition is scored from 1 to 9, with 1 being the worst condition and 9 the best. He said that both horses were in severe neglected condition, starving and dehydrated, and the horse in the worst condition needed to be euthanized.

John and Edwin Hedberg were both issued a Notice to Appear citation for animal cruelty, with a mandatory court date of July 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm.

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