DA charges couple shown pulling horse behind pickup in viral video
The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that a couple who shot a video of a horse being pulled behind a truck and shared it on Facebook is now facing animal cruelty charges.
Amber R. Saldate, 33, and John A. Saldate, 59, are each charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty after the Grand County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the video that went viral.
On Sunday, Amber Saldate posted the minute long video on Facebook. In it, a horse that refused to move was tied by its bridle to the hitch on a pickup truck driven by John Saldate and pulled across a property in Grand Lake while the horse actively resisted.
“Because these events are now the subject of an active prosecution, our ethical obligations prohibit us from discussing it, but interested persons can attend the public court proceedings if they choose,” District Attorney Matt Karzen said in a news release.
The horse has been seized by the sheriff’s office and taken to the Colorado Humane Society. A veterinary exam on Monday showed no signs of obvious trauma, but the horse was “tender” and given pain medication, Grand County Brett Schroetlin said. Further evaluations will be done to ensure the horse’s health.
The sheriff’s office began the investigation after receiving “countless” messages from people in the community asking the sheriff’s office to pursue charges against the couple in the video.
In the original Facebook post, Amber Saldate explained that they checked the horse’s tendons and its muscles after the horse was pulled across the property to ensure it wasn’t injured, but that did little to ease public outrage.
“There are 100 different ways this could have been handled with better results and not traumatizing the horse,” one Facebook commenter noted, while another stated that the Saldates “don’t even deserve to own a goldfish.”
The original video post was taken down, but a shorter clip circulating Facebook had been viewed more than 28,000 times by Monday morning.
In an interview with CBS Channel 4 in Denver, the owners expressed remorse for their actions, as Amber Saldate told the reporter she lost her job and the couple has angered many people as a result of their “stupid” actions.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated John Saldate’s age. He is 59.
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