A Douglas County judge Monday ordered a 44-year-old Eudora man to pay more than $4,400 to the state for care of a Shetland pony he neglected to provide proper care for over a four-year period.
John Steffen pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor animal cruelty charge after prosecutors in June filed criminal charges. A Lawrence Humane Society investigator in April had found the pony’s hooves had overgrown several inches and started to curl. The pony, Coco, has been in state custody for several months and is expected to make a full recovery, assistant district attorney Mark Simpson said Monday.
He said Steffen told investigators it had been four years since the family’s pony had its hooves trimmed.
“It made the animal unable to walk,” Simpson said.
Defense attorney James Rosenthal said Steffen had undergone a long period of unemployment and his wife was suffering from a long-term illness.
“He’s very regretful of the situation,” Rosenthal said. “I believe he’s taking responsibility.”
In addition to paying restitution and a $100 fine, District Judge Peggy Kittel sentenced Steffen to one year on unsupervised probation, a time in which he won’t be allowed to own any other horses. If he violates his probation term, he faces a week in jail.
“It must have been an awful condition for this animal to be in without proper care,” Kittel said.