by Danny Jacobs,
Judge Robert J. Steinberg initially thought he would not give jail time to a Baltimore County lawyer and his wife who were charged with neglecting their three horses, one fatally. But after hearing Hilton and Donna Silver speak before their sentencing Tuesday, Steinberg changed his mind.
The other horses, a chestnut Arabian and bay Arabian, were visibly underweight, with cracked hooves and burrs in their manes, according to the police report. Another veterinarian later rated them as a 1.5 and a 3.5 on the Henneke scale, which is used to classify a horse's condition; a rating of 5 is considered ideal.
Animal control warned the Silvers the Arabian horses could be taken away and gave the couple advice on proper care, Lippe said Tuesday. But officers seized the horses several days later when their condition had not changed, he said.
The Silvers "were warned; they knew better and they decided they didn't care," said Lippe, an assistant state's attorney.
The horses have since lived at Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, Lippe said. The county has spent at least $10,000 caring for the horses so far, and they will be sold to new owners for $25 each, he added.
Jay Fred Cohen, Hilton Silver's lawyer, said Donna Silver owned and cared for the horses. Robert N. Winkler, Donna Silver's lawyer, said she has a history of severe depression. All four argued the Silvers were in financial straits and were trying to find help for their horses between the animal control visits.
In court, a stoic Hilton Silver passed notes to Cohen and interrupted Cohen's argument to claim Lippe's statement of facts was not what Silver agreed to, drawing a rebuke from Steinberg.
Donna Silver, by contrast, sat with her head in her hands and spoke in turn, primarily between sobs.
"I would have given everything I had to them," she said at one point.
"All evidence to the contrary, do you expect me to believe that?" Steinberg asked.
"God understands, and if you don't, I'm sorry," she replied.
Steinberg ordered the Silvers to pay Klebe $275 for the euthanasia and the county $9,950 for the care of the surviving horses.
"It's beyond mere neglect. It's a complete disregard for the welfare of these animals," he said.
© The Equiery 2010