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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Two Ocala residents arrested for aggravated animal cruelty after MCSO finds malnourished horses

A 27-year-old man and 24-year-old woman from Ocala were arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Unit for aggravated animal cruelty after two malnourished horses were discovered.

On Wednesday, August 31, MCSO received an anonymous call for service in reference to two horses that had been starved. Upon arrival at the residence, which was located in the 16600 block of SW 42nd Loop, MCSO deputies located an 8-year-old Chestnut Quarter Horse mare named Cinnamon and an 18-year-old Old Bay Thoroughbred mare named Broadway.

According to MCSO, both horses appeared to be severely malnourished. Additional MCSO corporals, along with Marion County Animal Control, responded to the residence to conduct an animal abuse investigation.

Throughout the investigation, MCSO discovered that Cinnamon and Broadway had lost a significant amount of weight since they were purchased by Mercedees Lynn Cox and Tyler James William Hanners in June of 2022. Veterinary care was requested due to the poor body condition of both horses.

Mercedees Lynn Cox and Tyler James William Hanners
Mercedees Lynn Cox (left) and Tyler James William Hanners (right)

An on-call veterinarian with the Peterson Smith Equine Hospital responded to evaluate the horses. Broadway was found to have a displaced colon, colic from ingesting sand, and a body condition score of one, which indicated that the horse was emaciated.

The veterinarian recommended medical euthanasia to prevent further suffering due to the severity of Broadway’s condition.

Cinnamon was diagnosed with a heart murmur, heaves, rain rot, and a body condition score of two. According to MCSO, medication and a feeding regimen were recommended for Cinnamon, and the horse is expected to make a full recovery.

At the conclusion of the investigation, MCSO determined that Cox and Hanners had failed to provide adequate food, water, and medical care for the two horses. Cox insisted to investigators that the horses had received adequate feedings, even though both horses were visibly malnourished.

Cox was arrested on Thursday, September 1, transported to Marion County Jail, and she was later released on $4,000 bond. Hanners turned himself in at Marion County Jail on Tuesday, September 6, and he was also released on $4,000 bond.

Cox and Hanners are both facing felony charges for aggravated animal cruelty (two counts). A court date has not been scheduled yet, according to jail records.