Utah owner of malnourished horse pleads guilty to animal cruelty, sentenced to jail

SOURCE:  Salt Lake Tribune


(Elsa, about 1 1/2 years old, was found frozen to the ground in a patch of mud in Enoch and died two weeks later in January 2014. Courtesy photo)

He will serve jail time on weekends so he can keep job.

The man who owned a malnourished horse dubbed Elsa — that died in January 2014, two weeks after being found frozen to a patch of mud in Iron County — was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail.

Sonn Kent Berrett, 39, of Enoch, was sentenced immediately after pleading guilty to two class B misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

In exchange for Berrett’s pleas, prosecutors dismissed two counts of failure to vaccinate and two counts of failure to license an animal.

In addition to the jail time, Iron County Justice Court Judge Margaret Miller ordered Berrett, as part of an 18-month probation, to pay a $1,246 fine and not possess any animals.

The Independent of southern Utah reported that Barrett will serve his time on weekends, beginning April 11, so he can maintain his employment at Southern Utah University.

The Independent also reported that the judge left open the amount restitution Berrett must pay, which would include veterinarian fees that were accrued for care of Elsa and her mother, along with costs associated with their rescue.

The 1½-year-old filly was hypothermic and nearly dead when passersby discovered her and her starving, abandoned mother Jan. 2, according to Ginger Grimes, of Dust Devil Ranch Sanctuary for Horses near Cedar City.

The sanctuary took in the horses and named them after the characters from “Frozen” — Elsa’s mother was called Anna.

Elsa should have weighed 700 to 800 pounds, but the ranch found her at only 400 pounds. She was put under 24-hour surveillance and was bouncing back the second week of January. Though the staff initially had to lift the horse’s head to get her into a sitting position to drink, she grew stronger and was eventually standing and rubbing noses with her mother.

But Elsa died Jan. 18.


8 comments on “Utah owner of malnourished horse pleads guilty to animal cruelty, sentenced to jail

  1. Thats not a misdemeaner, it should be reclassified as a felony and he go to jail for 10 years. Examples must be made of such insensitive bastards. No excuse for such things as this to occur. Many more animal protection laws are seriously needed, too many abusers get off with light sentences and learn nothing of their offense. Don’t need those kinds of people in the world.


  2. He deserves a 10 year presion sentence and it should be a felony conviction not merely a misdemeaner. How can we make examples of such abusers. He learns nothing about his cruelty and insensitivity when he gets off with such a light sentence. Much tougher laws are severely needed to protect our animals.


  3. What kind of punishment is that??? It is more like a slap on the wrist. How will that deter others from doing such a horrible thing again. Going to jail on the weekends so he can keep his job!!! What a joke!! How could he do such a terrible thing to that poor baby. He saw her stuck to the ground and skin and bones. Tougher laws and stricter penalties must be implemented in order to stop all this and protect these animals. NOW so dirtbags like this one will think twice before doing such horrible things like this again to these beautiful creatures.


  4. When it comes to setting an example, this ridiculously light sentence just supports the attitude of some people that animals are nothing more than “possessions” to eventually be tossed away. What a horrible example the judge is sending to children or to anyone and it will show up in those people’s lives forever.

    Many of us have heard this before and here it is again:

    We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. ~ Henry Beston


    • How true that is! They should be treated as Other Nations! Frankly, hearing this guy worked at a university – is this the type of human they want working there? And is his attitude toward animals what they want to be known for? I wouldn’t think so.


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