Grand Lake woman sentenced for abusing horse on video |

Grand Lake woman sentenced for abusing horse on video

The woman who captured and uploaded on social media a shocking video of a horse being dragged behind a pickup truck in Grand Lake has been sentenced to two years probation, five days in jail and more.

Amber Saldate, 33, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty in June, and on Tuesday a judge sentenced her to five days in jail, two years of supervised probation, 100 hours of community service, and animal cruelty and mental health evaluations, as well as treatment.

Saldate and her husband John, 58, were charged with animal cruelty in November after a video posted on Facebook showed a horse attached to a truck hitch being pulled by the pickup for roughly 100 yards.

Other requirements of the sentencing include quarterly vet visits for Saldate’s dog, substance abuse monitoring, anger management and a trauma evaluation. Saldate is also not allowed to train or acquire other animals.

If Saldate doesn’t follow the requirements of her sentencing, she will be subject to 20 days in jail.

In court, Saldate told Judge Nicholas Catanzarite that she had learned from her mistake and is truly sorry for her actions.

“I don’t regret that I got caught because it’s allowed me to evaluate myself and learn from this how I need to change to be better, but I am sorry for what happened to Trigger,” Saldate said through tears. “I’m sorry that I hurt him and my community.”

Saldate’s lawyer, Sheryl Uhlmann, argued her client’s lack of a criminal history and efforts to complete the necessary evaluations and treatments should warrant a lighter sentence with no jail time and fewer required treatments.

However, Assistant District Attorney Katheryn Dowdell urged the judge to sentence Saldate to the maximum 30 days in jail allowed by the plea agreement because of the offensive and serious behavior shown in the video Saldate posted to Facebook.

“I don’t know how actually sincere the defendant is being or if she’s more upset that she got caught,” Dowdell said. “I think that this is a case that there has to be a punitive consequence. There has to be a message sent that you can’t treat animals this way.”

Ultimately, Judge Catanzarite found Saldate’s behavior in the video concerning, but also saw her remorse as sincere. As a result, he didn’t impose a fine beyond court costs and restitution. 

Saldate has a year to complete her jail sentence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she received one day credit time served. 

She previously forfeited her rights to the horse. The horse was seized by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in November and taken to the Colorado Humane Society.

John Saldate pleaded not guilty in June and is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 23.

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