ROGERS CITY - A Hawks woman accused of neglecting numerous animals faces a felony charge after police seized them earlier in November.
Christine K. Thompson, 33, stood mute to a charge of animal abandonment or cruelty involving more than 10 animals Tuesday. She waived her arraignment in the 89th District Court, and Judge Maria Barton scheduled her preliminary exam. If convicted, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of four years in jail, a $5,000 fine, 500 hours of community service or any combination of the three.
After being assessed by an Alpena veterinarian, two of the 33 horses seized from Thompson had to be put down, Presque Isle County Sheriff's Animal Control Officer Dave Tomas said.
"At this point, I'm sorry to say, but two had to be put down due to their condition and their age," he said after the arraignment, adding the initial diagnosis was confirmed by another veterinarian with experience in similar cases.
Police also took a number of Thompson's dogs and pigs that day, and the animals are now recovering, Tomas said.
The Presque Isle County Sheriff Department seized the animals, all in various stages of neglect, from Thompson on Nov. 7, according to a release from the department. A dispatcher had received a call that day about several horses running at large in a Bismarck Township field, near Thompson's property.
Police have the surviving animals in custody and under veterinary care until Thompson's civil forfeiture hearing Tuesday, Tomas said. Prosecutors must show proof of the alleged neglect to a district court judge before Thompson's seized animals are forfeited to the county prosecutor's office. If so, the office may auction them off to recoop the cost of caring for them.
"The main thing is that if they are forfeited, then we can make sure that all the remaining animals go to good homes," he said.
Police are investigating further into the matter, Tomas said.
Thompson is listed as the owner of a company that rents ponies and other animals for rides and petting zoos on an online profile. Calls and emails to contact information listed for the business were not returned.
Jordan Travis can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688.