ADAMS COUNTY — Police have charged a 59-year-old Hamilton Township woman with aggravated cruelty to animals and neglect of animals after a dead horse and a second, underweight horse were found in her care in 2018.
Kimberly Jean Koester, of the 1000 block of East Berlin Road, was charged after the Adams County Humane Society informed police about the horses found on the property where Koester was living.
Koester admitted to police that she was caring for the horses, but said she did not own them, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. Koester said the horses belonged to the property owner, who had died. The horses were in probate, Koester said. The property owner was her landlord prior to his death, according to Koester.
The Humane Society went to the property after a photo that appeared to depict a dead horse there began circulating on Facebook in December 2018, the complaint states.
An Humane Officer went to the property and confirmed there was a dead horse lying in the pasture, police say. The officer also spotted second horse in the pasture that was still alive, but appeared to be emaciated, according to the complaint.
Police obtained a search warrant to seize both horses, the complaint says.
They eventually contacted Koester, who admitted to feeding the horses, police say. She allegedly told police she knew one of the horses was dead, and was going to have her son place a tarp over it until she could figure out what to do with it. She allegedly admitted that she knew the horse was thin, but told police she had been giving it weight-gain feed in an attempt to save it.
She told police she thought the horse was frail because it was old, and said she fed both horses hay and oats twice a day, the complaint says. Koester said she hadn’t had a veterinarian check on the horses since their owner’s death. The property owner died “two or three years ago,” Koester told police, according to the complaint.
She also told police she had been trying to find another home for the horse that was still alive, the complaint alleges.
Police say a search of the property revealed the horses had no clean water or adequate shelter, according to the complaint.
Both horses were taken by the SPCA. The dead horse was transported to a veterinary lab, which determined that it died of starvation. The living horse was taken for a medical evaluation, which determined it was about 200 pounds underweight, police say.