Eudora man faces animal cruelty charge related to ‘shocking’ condition of pony’s hooves

A rural Eudora man turned himself in Monday after Douglas County prosecutors filed an animal cruelty charge accusing him of neglecting to care for his Shetland pony’s hooves.

Kayse Aschenbrenner, the Lawrence Humane Society’s director of animal welfare, said someone complained to her about the animal’s health. She and Douglas County Sheriff’s officers on April 22 checked on the pony named CoCo at the property in the 1900 block of North 1200 Road. Aschenbrenner said the pony, believed to be 13, appeared to have proper food, water and shelter but had not had care for its hooves, causing founder, an inflammation that made it difficult to walk.

Aschenbrenner said a veterinarian determined it had been more than a year since the pony had received any care for its hooves, which had overgrown several inches and started to curl.

“It was quite a shocking situation,” she said. “I have never personally seen a pony that had such severe founder before.”

The horse was taken into the care of a veterinarian and farrier, who helped the pony recover. The shelter’s animal welfare director said CoCo is in “foster care” at another location. Aschenbrenner hopes the shelter can gain custody after the court case is resolved so the pony can be put up for adoption.

According to Douglas County Jail records, John Michael Steffen, 44, posted $500 bond Monday afternoon and was released 15 minutes after turning himself in. A first appearance is scheduled for July 11 but could occur earlier, according to jail records. A message left for Steffen Tuesday was not returned.