Sarasota Couple Charged with Animal Cruelty

News Release 17-155 - JULY 11, 2017

201700007088_1     Watson, Wendy

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Sarasota couple on charges of Animal Cruelty after they failed to care for several horses living on their property.

Agricultural Unit deputies were first made aware of four horses that appeared malnourished at 16444 Windburn Place, on March 1, 2017, thanks to an anonymous tip. When deputies responded to the home, they located the animals in a pasture and confirmed three of the four horses appeared to be underweight. Deputies worked with the property owners, Benjamin and Wendy Watson, to have a veterinarian examine the animals and provide a 6-week feeding schedule to increase the animals’ weight. During a series of follow-up visits, deputies found the horses without adequate food or water and overall, still underweight.

On April 25, an equine veterinarian visited the property and confirmed three of the four horses were underweight and suffering from various medical issues. Agricultural Unit deputies confiscated the animals and on April 27, the Watsons signed over three of the four horses to the sheriff’s office. Following a petition hearing, a judge released one of the horses back to the Watsons while the others remained in the care of the Animal Services Section. The horses have since been rehomed for rehabilitation.

Benjamin and Wendy are each charged with felony Animal Cruelty: Failure to Act and Confinement of Animals without Water, a misdemeanor. Benjamin, DOB 09/30/83, was arrested Thursday and released the same day on $2,000 bond. Wendy, DOB 02/04/88, turned herself in on Monday and was released on $2,000 bond.