Between June 2013 and January 2014, El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies visited Rachel Fleischaker’s property at least 21 times to investigate 31 starving Arabians. This culminated in one charge of animal cruelty – failure to provide water. Fleischaker was found guilty on Oct. 15, with sentencing in January 2015. Another cruelty charge on one horse went to trial December 15 and that resulted in a plea agreement. Shannon Gerhart, Chief Deputy DA, was the prosecutor.
Today Judge Christopher Acker listened to attorneys and Ms. Fleischaker addressed the court, as well. She was contrite and took responsibility. The Judge was not swayed, Ms. Fleischaker was turned down on each of her attorney’s requests and her sentencing went as follows.
60 months of probation (5 years). This was a year longer than the prosecuting attorneys asked for. The court was clear that this time period gave them maximum supervision and Fleischaker was warned if she broke her probation, she would go immediately to jail for 4 years.
Probation includes: Fleischaker may have no ownership, possession or business interest in any large animals, including horses, donkeys, and cattle. Both the Sheriff’s office and the Humane Society will do random check-ups at their discretion. She is further ordered to Care and Treatment of Animals class and she must attend 12 counseling sessions. Both the Sheriff’s Dept. and the Humane Society will be coming by un-announced to enforce the probation. She is also ordered to pay court costs.
On the subject of jail time, Judge Acker spoke plainly, saying he did not believe Ms. Fleischaker really did take responsibility. The possible jail time was 60 days, but a plea bargain on the first count, which is sealed, did place some sentencing restrictions. In the end, Fleischaker did receive 10 days jail time and 50 days of in-home detention. She asked for a stay of the sentence long enough to find someone to help, as she is her husband’s full time caretaker, but the judge ruled that she had time and knew this was a possibility and she is ordered to begin her incarceration in two days, Monday, January 26th at 7:30 a.m.
Horse Advocates of Colorado’s board would have liked to see more jail time, but considering the nature of the charges filed, we are very satisfied with this verdict. Rachel Fleischaker is being held accountable for the neglect shown her horses and as community concern grows on animal abuse issues, we expect even better trial results. This was a case that several members of our board have been involved with from the start and we hope in the future that the charges filed will represent a more full account of the situations at neglect locations and a more expedient protocol will be used in neglect cases like these. We will be meeting with Sheriff Elder to discuss this in the near future and we are very optimistic that our new sheriff will take some positive steps in this area.
Fleischaker’s horses have all been relinquished, along with their brand inspections. They are gaining weight and improving in health. There is a group of mares and fillies still in the county that are looking for homes. (find them here: http://www.equinenow.com/horse-ad-964552 )
This case did not go perfectly, but the results are still very positive. It has to be seen as a step forward and Horse Advocates of Colorado is grateful for all the support and commitment shown by the horse owners and lovers in El Paso County. There are good days ahead if we continue to all work together for the welfare of horses.
Thank you all so much.
Horse Advocates of Colorado
Honor. Protect. Enforce.