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13 counts of animal cruelty

Authorities say that when they were called to Mike Wood’s residence on Crossfire Trail on Jan. 7 — after this photo was taken — they found dead horses penned in with live ones. Authorities say that when they were called to Mike Wood’s residence on Crossfire Trail on Jan. 7 — after this photo was taken — they found dead horses penned in with live ones. Courtesy photo

Clark resident arrested, more charges expected

A Clark man is facing 13 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty for allegedly underfeeding his horses, causing seven of them to die and six to become thin.

Mike A. Wood, 39, was arrested on the charges Friday afternoon and pleaded not guilty at a Monday appearance in Park County Circuit Court in Cody.

Wood reportedly told a Park County Sheriff’s deputy he didn’t have the money to care for his horses, “and that some of them died due to lack of care,” Sgt. Mark Hartman wrote in an affidavit submitted in support of the case.

On Monday, prosecutors said Wood will likely face additional charges relating to a number of dogs and cats that either died or were found in poor health at the Crossfire Trail property. Authorities have seized a total of 10 dead animals (seven horses and three dogs) plus 12 live ones in various conditions (six horses, three other dogs and three cats), prosecutors said.

Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Davis successfully argued at Monday’s hearing for Wood’s bail to be set at $7,500 cash.

“The facts of this case are quite serious, even though they’re only misdemeanors,” Davis said, in part.

Wood — who’s worked in Powell for about five years and lived at the Crossfire Trail property for roughly four — had asked for a lower amount that he could post.

“I do have a regular, steady job that I’d like to keep — not to mention nobody else working and paying household bills,” he said.

Authorities want Wood to provide proof of ownership for the six live horses they seized from his residence on Jan. 9, so they can potentially move forward with finding new owners for the animals. (They’re currently being temporarily put up by a private citizen for $5 per horse per day.) Wood, however, questioned how he can track down the horses’ paperwork from jail.

“I’m kind of stuck,” he told Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters.

“You are kind of stuck to a certain degree,” Waters agreed, but he left bail at $7,500 cash.

If Wood posts that money and is released from jail, he can’t own or possess any animals.

Complicating things is the fact Wood still has other horses at another location.

“I have some on pasture that I’m trying to deal with and get rid of,” he said in court on Monday.

“We’re not exactly sure what’s going on with that,” Davis, the prosecutor, said later in the hearing. “The Sheriff’s Office will monitor that and make sure those animals ... don’t fall under the same circumstances.”

The Sheriff’s Office had received a tip about the dead horses at the Crossfire Trail property on Jan. 7.

Hartman checked out the property that same morning and spotted five dead horses and six live ones in three corrals; two of the corrals had both live and dead horses inside, Hartman wrote in his affidavit.

When the deputy spoke with Wood later that day, “Wood told me that he did not have the resources to properly care for these horses and that some of them had died due to lack of care,” Hartman wrote.

Wood said he’d tried contacting a horse rescue organization and advertised the horses in the paper, but hadn’t had any success, Hartman said.

Authorities got a warrant to search the property and seize the animals on Jan. 9. They discovered two more dead horses in a snow drift at the rear of the property.

“These horses were long dead and had been fed upon by coyotes as well as most likely domestic dogs,” Hartman wrote.

From the various stages of decomposition, Cody veterinarian Mel Fillerup — who accompanied law enforcement for the search — concluded the seven dead horses had died sometime between seven and 30 days earlier.

Wood apparently told the authorities he thought the animals had died of sand colic, but Fillerup analyzed the contents of one of the dead animal’s stomach and found that didn’t appear to be the problem, Hartman wrote.

“They essentially were corralled up and died from what the state’s alleging was a lack of feed,” Davis said Monday.

As for the six living horses, Fillerup categorized one horse as being extremely emaciated, two were very thin or emaciated and the other three were between thin and very thin, charging documents say.

“Dr. Fillerup commented that all the horses searched for food and ate snow during his examination,” Hartman wrote. “Dr. Fillerup concluded that the horses were underweight for their age and that they needed food.”

The veterinarian found the horses’ water troughs didn’t have water, although there was an active water hydrant. There was no salt source on the property, though there were five bales of good quality grass hay, Hartman wrote.

Davis said there’s been “public outrage” about the case, pointing that out as he argued for a $7,500 bond.

Wood’s trial was tentatively set for April 14.

6 comments

  • posted by BEV

    January 23, 2016 3:18 am

    WHY DIDN'T PEOPLE REPORT IT TO THE SPCA INSTEAD JUST THE POLICE? LIVES COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED.

  • posted by Gloria Kersey

    January 21, 2016 6:51 pm

    We now have felony animal cruelty laws nationwide! These are felonies and he should pay the consequences! !! Despicable people!

  • posted by Clark Resident

    January 20, 2016 9:19 pm

    This man needs to be charged for what he has done to the animals. There were Clark residents that did give him hay in the past few years. There are many more residents, that after hearing about this case, would have helped out in some way had he actually talked with some of the neighbors. If the police actually do a newspaper search, I highly doubt he put an add in the paper or contacted a local rescue facility. Let it also be known that this man has been reported to the sheriffs office by several people in the past few years regarding the animals not being fed and the police department stops by but continued to not do anything. Now with dead animals and pictures they have been forced to take care of the situation. I hope this is a wake up call to the sheriff's office that when animal cruelty and starvation is reported that it should not be taken lightly. It was painful for the locals to continually drive by this property and see starving animals and know that calling the sheriff's office was not doing any good.

  • posted by Donna M. Baldwin

    January 20, 2016 2:25 pm

    Animal Cruelty is a Class A Felony - Animal Abuse Register now compiled by the FBI - I trust someone in the local area is contacting their local FBI office. I'm also certain the judge and jury on the case are up on their 2016 law! If not, let it be so!

  • posted by rhonda

    January 20, 2016 6:27 am

    I thought animal neglect was a felony nationwide now.....

  • posted by Andrea Rentschler

    January 19, 2016 9:47 pm

    True act of neglect and cruelty. He absolutely needs to to go to jail and an example made so others will not this happen again. I personally know many people in the Clark area who would have fostered those animals or gave them hay. No one who has any empathy for any living thing would not let this go on right before their eyes every day. Thank you to the person who reported this and saved the remainder of these horses and dogs. Perhaps he had some sick pleasure from their suffering and why do these people hoard animals they can't take care of? Make this evil heartless man accountable so maybe we don't see this again.

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