HOWELL (WWJ/AP) – A 71-year-old Livingston County woman who was convicted of animal cruelty in the death of one horse and the care of two other horses says the animal that died must have been poisoned by someone else.

Velva Jean Wainscott, of Cohoctah Township, made the comments during a hearing Wednesday. She was sentenced to two years of probation, to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and was ordered not to own animals, except for her dog.

Animal Control officers went to Wainscott’s farm Jan. 12 after a 911 caller reported seeing a dead horse. Witnesses testified that water for Wainscott’s horses was frozen and their hay was filled with feces and urine, making it inedible.

Wainscott testified that her horses had adequate water and feed.

“Four or five hours later, he’s dead after one of (the prosecution) witnesses was outside the fence. (The witness) said she was never on the property. I know for a fact I saw her do it, throw some hay over to another one of my horses,” Wainscott said in court. “I don’t know what she did, but the horse was all of a sudden dead after she did whatever she did. I really don’t like being blamed for something like that.”

Judge Carol Sue Reader empathized with Wainscott, but said she has to make sure the animals are no longer neglected. Reader ordered the forfeiture of the Wainscott’s remaining horses, which will be made available for adoption.

“I like you very much, but I have to follow the law,” Reader said. “You’re very lucky I’m not putting you in jail. I understand that you think the horse was poisoned.”

Wainscott told reporters she plans to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Animal control officials say Wainscott has logged an extended history of complaints, going back more than 10 years. In Sept. 2012, officers removed 11 horses from her farm, located in the 7400 block of Byron Road, after receiving multiple complaints that the animals were left without food or water. Animal cruelty charges in the incident were later dropped and the horses returned to Wainscott’s care.

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