Laporte Couple Charged With Animal Torture After Multiple Deceased & Malnourished Horses Found On Their Property
A Laporte couple is facing nine charges of mistreatment of animals and torture each after multiple malnourished and deceased horses were found on their property. The incidents happened from January through June of this year.
According to a criminal compliant from the Hubbard County Sheriff Department, a deputy responded to the home of Stephanie Nicole Johnson, 27, and Johnathan Johnson, 32, on April 4th after receiving a report of animal neglect.
The deputy arrived at the home and discovered two horses that appeared malnourished. The deputy also observed a dead horse on the ground inside the shelter. The deputy also did not see any food or water for the horses.
Stephanie Johnson confirmed to the deputy that the horses belonged to her, but would not show the deputy the horse feed. She also denied that there was a dead horse.
After the deputy informed Stephanie that he saw a dead horse, she later stated that it “went down” in January and that she had shot the horse after it would not get back up. She then requested a search warrant from the deputy.
After obtaining a search warrant, the deputy and an investigator entered the Johnson property and again observed the dead horse. The investigator located two additional deceased horses on the property. Stephanie said the horses died while foaling but the deputy did not see any evidence of a foal near the horses. Stephanie than said one of the horses died in February when it was -40 degrees outside.
Stephanie stated that she and her husband Johnathan go to L&M Fleet Supply in Bemidji daily to purchase bags of alfalfa cubes for the horses. The deputy and the investigator noted multiple empty bags of alfalfa cubes and only one partial bag in the home.
The Deputy later observed two live horses in the pasture and noticed that many of the trees were missing bark as a result of the horses chewing on them. The deputy also located a deceased foal in the water. Stephanie stated she did not know the foal was there and was unsure which horse had given birth. The foal appeared to be there for some time as its eyes were missing and the intestines were hanging out.
A veterinarian was later brought to the home on April 5th to observe the five living horses and the four deceased horses. The veterinarian determined the living horses were in poor health from lack of adequate nutrition. One horse was also discovered to be pregnant and in poor health. Stephanie and Johnathan were advised that the horses would be seized at that time. The pregnant horse later died as a result of poor nutrition from the Johnson home.
Each count of animal cruelty carries a 2-year prison sentence and/or a $5,000 fine.