Local News

Plea Deal Reached In Pitt Clydesdale Animal Cruelty Case

Posted August 29, 2005 1:00 a.m. EDT

— A man has agreed to plead guilty in connection with an animal cruelty case in Pitt County.

Thomas Leonard Zelaney pleaded guilty Monday to two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in relation to the Clydesdale horses seized in May.

The five Clydesdales, along with a Morgan type horse, were seized from Zelaney's property and put into the protective custody of the United States Equine Rescue League, Inc. (USERL).

Pitt County authorities seized the horses after investigators found they were severely malnourished and in need of veterinary attention.

One of the Clydesdales subsequently died soon after the seizure and another required immediate surgery to remove a cancer-infected eye that had gone untreated.

As a result of the plea agreement, Zelaney has agreed to relinquish ownership of the horses to the USERL and cannot own any horses for a period of five years.

The four remaining Clydesdales and one Morgan type horse are expected to make complete recoveries from the years of neglect that had left them severely underweight and malnourished. Once their rehabilitation processes have been completed, they may be available for adoption.