Bond for the Union Parish man accused of mistreating horses has been reduced again but the prosecutor in the case says more charges are pending.
A bill of information filed against Hal W. Parker charges him with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animal and one of felony theft of livestock.
Assistant Attorney General Michelle Anderson Thompson, who is handling the prosecution of the case, said two other simple cruelty to animal charges have been dropped.
Parker’s bond now stands at $155,000 total. His total bond with all five of the original charges was placed at $250,000 by Third Judicial District Court Judge Bruce Hampton. The judge later reduced bond on the original charges down to $175,000.
Parker, 60, of Haile, appeared in court Wednesday (April 3) for arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the three charges pending against him.
Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates confirmed Thompson’s statement in court that other charges are pending within the next “week or two” against Parker. “Our investigation is continuing into this case,” Gates said.
Thompson and Parker’s attorney, James Buckley, agreed to a July 3 pre-trial hearing date.
Sheriff’s investigators arrested Parker February 19 on the original five counts after an investigation began in early January after complaints about a number of thoroughbred horses appearing to be malnourished and diseased.
Gates said Parker was involved in an operation that rescued mostly thoroughbred horses from kill pens, advertising the horses over a New Jersey website and then shipping those horses throughout the United States in an attempt to save them from slaughter.
The sheriff, who said UPSO was aided in its investigation by the Louisiana Brand Commission, stated that Parker was keeping the horses in two old chicken houses in the Marion area and other places throughout the parish.
Investigators said the rescued thoroughbreds in Parker’s possession were malnourished and one to the extent that it had to be “put down.”
A search by investigators of properties where the horses were being kept revealed insufficient feed for the animals, Gates said.
A number of the horses have been diagnosed with diseases including strangles.
Strangles is an infectious, contagious disease characterized by infection of the lymphoid tissue of the upper respiratory tract. It can be fatal if not treated.
According to investigators, the theft charge against Parker involved a rescue buyer from Iowa who never received the horse she claimed.
Gates said the investigators learned the horse had been given to a person in Calhoun County, Arkansas. The thoroughbred was recovered.
Gates said it has been determined that Parker has boarded some 181 horses rescued from kill pens and that some 55 of them can’t be accounted for.
Investigators said the operation consisted of the thoroughbreds being rescued for a price from kill pens and would then be advertised for adoption over ICareIHelp’s website complete with photographs showing healthy horses. Those horses where then delivered often in emaciated conditions or with diseases.
The sheriff said other parts of the investigation are taking place outside of Louisiana.
According to a story published at NTWO.org, Parker is involved with an organization known as ICareIHelp operated by Dina Alborano of Trenton, N.J.
The National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization article, written by the group’s president, Victoria Keith, stated that many of the horses that ended up with Parker came from Thompson’s Horse Lot in Pitkin, Louisiana.
The article states that Alborano’s ICareIHelp was not a non-profit as stated on its website and that the organization had chosen Parker as its quarantine and care provider.