CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– Animals on a Centre County farm were found living in poor conditions after state police found a pregnant horse that was shot to death.
Levi Byler, 30, of Howard, is accused of not taking proper care of his animals that were allegedly left outside in frigid winter conditions when he was out of state for weeks in December, state police at Rockview said in the charges filed.
Troopers said they got a report in January of a dead black Percheron horse that was lying in a pasture off of Marsh Creek Road for a week. Troopers found that the horse suffered a miscarriage and was shot in the head by Byler, according to the complaint.
Byler stated to troopers that he was in Florida for three weeks for health reasons when they talked to him the next day. Byler admitted that there was no one tending his animals while he was gone and that the horse was alive before he left, according to the criminal complaint
A vet came to see the horse after Byler returned home and gave the animal a body score of two while noting it was in a muddy area on a slope, troopers said. Byler was given medication for the horse and was instructed to contact the vet the next day if the condition didn’t improve.
Byler allegedly told troopers he saw the horse was still laying down and noticed its ear move so he took his rifle and shot it in the head.
State police also told Byler the rest of his animals needed proper care and living conditions and that they would be back to check on them. When they returned in March, Byler made them leave.
The complaint states that state police were able to search the property after getting a warrant and found many other animals living in unsanitary and unsafe condition.
Other horses that were thin and had trouble walking were without water, food or shelter. They were in a muddy pasture which was full of holes, troopers said Two dogs also had no food or water while two dead lambs were found in a shelter that was too small. Cows and a donkey in another pasture had a bale to eat but no water.
The only source of food for the animals was one bale that was already being used and a half bag of corn.
According to the complaint, troopers offered to help Byler twice during the investigation and he responded by showing off his checkbook and saying, “does it look like I need help.”
State police also noted that a Human Society Officer warned Byler about the poor living conditions before and that they are familiar with his farm from past incidents of animals being loose, chained to trees or destroying property.
Byler faces charges such as felony and misdemeanor counts of aggravated cruelty to animals causing. He also faces multiple summary counts of neglect of animals.
Byler was arraigned Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Kelley Gillette-Walker who set his unsecured bail at $25,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 17.