On Thursday, Aug. 13, Sherri Brunzell was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years of supervised probation after being found guilty on eight counts of animal cruelty in May.
“I think it’s a good verdict,” 4th Judicial District Chief Deputy District Attorney Shannon Gerhart said after the sentencing was delivered. “We are happy that it had a good outcome, and I think it’s a good sentence.”
On Sept. 19, 2014, neighbors of a property Brunzell was leasing in Black Forest, Colorado, found 10 horses – including 22-year-old cutting stallion Dual Peppy (Peppy San Badger x Miss Dual Doc x Doc’s Remedy) – and four llamas in indecent living conditions. They then notified the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with an “animal – check the welfare” call.
“[The horses] were thin, but they weren’t emaciated,” El Paso County Public Information Officer Sergeant Greg White said in an interview with Quarter Horse News shortly after the horses and llamas were found. “The conditions were filthy; there was four feet of manure in the barn.”
One of the most concerning things officers found when they arrived on the scene was the horses and llamas living among the carcasses of an estimated 14 deceased horses. On Sept. 22, 2014, Dr. Randy Parker, of Range View Equine Associates in Elbert, Colorado, was called in to evaluate the situation, at which time he recommended seizure of all the animals.
During Brunzell’s time on probation, she will not be allowed to own or possess livestock of any kind, including horses and llamas. At the recommendation of the animal abuse evaluator, she will also be required to attend a minimum of 16 counseling sessions, and then complete two follow-up sessions.
“She had to forfeit the eight horses that were convictions to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and she is to provide us registration paperwork so we can start looking at placement options,” Gerhart said, adding that Brunzell will also be responsible for paying court costs, fines and restitution. “In regard to the two horses [that were not convictions], she needs to work that out with the sheriff’s department. It’s a catch-22; they were not guilty counts, but she can’t own horses, so she either has to sell them or transfer them.”
According to Gerhart, the defense filed a motion for a new trial, claiming there is new evidence that was not considered during the original trial. That motion will be heard on Thursday, Sept. 17. Brunzell also has 35 days to appeal her sentencing.
Anyone interested in owning one of the horses seized from Brunzell’s care should contact the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office at 719-520-7100.