(Lander, WY) – A March 1 scheduling conference with further trial dates has been set for 51-year-old Riverton resident Kathy Wright, after having pled “not guilty” to all 10 counts of the cruelty to animal charges filed against her.
Wright initially faced 2 charges for incidents occurring between January 1 and December 8 of 2022, to which she pled “not guilty” at a December 2022 arraignment, according to the original affidavit.
Following further investigation, eight more charges were added for additional incidents occurring during that same timeframe, to which she also pled “not guilty” at her January 10, 2023 arraignment, according to the amended information court document filed on December 22, 2022.
In Wyoming, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor charge defined as “having the charge and custody of any animals and under circumstances which manifested extreme indifference to the animals’ health, safety or life,” and/or “failing to provide them with proper food, drink or protection from the weather, adequate for the species.”
According to the amended information, Wright faces 10 cruelty to animals charges total, involving:
- 20+ deceased sheep and goats found on property
- 1 deceased red roan Nubian doe and 1 deceased cream-colored Nigerian dwarf buck found on property
- 9 horses (sorrel gelding with club foot, 2 bay mares, 2 red and white paint geldings, one roan mare, one roan gelding, one bay paint pony, one bay filly pony)
- 1 horse (red and white paint gelding)
- 37 doe goats
- 1 doe goat with mastitis
- 7 buck goats
- 18 ewe sheep
- 4 ram sheep
- 3 geese and 15 chickens
The maximum punishment for each charge is 6 months’ imprisonment and a $750 fine.
On December 7, 2022, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) was attempting to contact Wright at her residence in Riverton, where the first deputy on scene observed “several deceased goats in pens,” a horse that “needed immediate veterinary care,” and other animals described as “extremely thin and emaciated,” according to court documents.
The FCSO lieutenant who was soon called to the scene also observed “a large number of extremely thin sheep,” goats that were housed in “deplorable conditions,” and two pens with multiple horses which, “you could clearly see their ribs and skeletal structure due to malnutrition.”
After discovering Wright was not home, the lieutenant assessed the condition of the other pens, where they then discovered more deceased animals on the property, (some of which were determined to have just died, “as they were still warm and not yet frozen”), and other animals “in various stages of decomposition.
“All of the animals appeared extremely thin,” the report noted.
Upon further inspection of the premises, FCSO discovered that every pen was frozen solid, none of the animals had access to water, there was no hay in any of the feeders, and ultimately no indication that any of the animals had recently eaten.
A local veterinarian was brought to the scene to conduct an “emergency assessment of the animals,” who then advised that overfeeding the animals or feeding them alfalfa could kill them.
Only three bales of hay were found on the property, not enough for all the animals despite the smaller feeding amount, resulting in the lieutenant retrieving 7 more bales from their own property.
Due to the time of day, the decision was made to make sure the animals had the adequate/safe amount of food and water, with transportation being arranged for the next day.
Extensive History Of Animal Abuse Complaints
Contact was eventually made with Wright that evening via phone, where she was informed of the discovery of the animals’ conditions.
Wright went on to state that she had been told by a veterinarian “from the state fair” that the goats were dying “from chlamydia,” and that she was “treating them with Ivermectin.”
FCSO was “unable to corroborate her statements” with any local veterinarians, some of whom stated that they “no longer do business with her.”
Wright also claimed that she was “supposed to get more hay” that night, and that she would be able to move the horse in the worst condition to a nearby barn, but was then advised by FCSO to not move the horse due to the ensuing investigation, and that they had taken care of feeding the animals and providing water.
Wright then reportedly thanked FCSO for feeding and watering her animals, and also requested they make sure that the “hose is drained.”
Court documents go on to state that the FCSO “has an extensive history in dealing with Wright regarding animal abuse complaints,” with the same lieutenant going to Wright’s property “on numerous occasions,” observing “thin and unhealthy animals” each time.
The report states that on prior offenses, the FCSO would begin to monitor the living conditions of the animals, which would then improve.
“Now that law enforcement has not monitored the animals, there is significant death loss and emaciated animals on the property.”
The following morning on December 8, 2022, the mentioned animals were seized.
Approximately 22 deceased sheep and goats were discovered, the total of which may be incorrect because they were found “frozen in a pile.”
Further analysis conducted by veterinarians confirmed that the animals died of “starvation” and “metabolic” complications from being fed after long periods of not eating or hydrating.
After pleading “not guilty” to all counts at the mentioned arraignment hearings, a March 1 scheduling conference was ordered, where Wright’s future trial dates will be decided.
County 10 will provide updates on the case as it progresses, which can be found here.