MARION COUNTY, FL – Marion County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture Unit officers have arrested two residents, 24 year-old Mercedees Cox and her fiancée, 27 year-old Tyler Hanners, for two counts each of aggravated animal cruelty, 828.12(2) Torture/Inflict Pain/Serious Physical Injury/Death upon an animal.
According to authorities, on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, Marion County Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous call for service in reference to two horses having been starved, located at a residence in the 16600 block of SW 42nd Loop in Ocala. Upon arriving, deputies located an 8-year-old Chestnut Quarter Horse mare named Cinnamon and an 18-year-old Old Bay Thoroughbred mare named Broadway, who were severely malnourished.
Officers along with Marion County Animal Control responded to conduct an animal abuse investigation. Through the investigation, it was discovered that Cinnamon and Broadway had lost a significant amount of weight since they were purchased by Cox and Hanners in June 2022. Due to their visibly poor body condition, veterinary care was requested.
The on-call veterinarian with the Peterson Smith Equine Hospital responded to evaluate both horses. Broadway was found to have a displaced colon, colic from ingesting sand, and a body condition score of one, which indicated she was emaciated. Due to the severity of Broadway’s condition, the veterinarian recommended medical euthanasia to prevent further suffering. Broadway was euthanized on the property. Cinnamon was diagnosed with a heart murmur, heaves, rain rot, and a body condition score of two. With a proper medication and feeding regimen, Cinnamon is expected to make a full recovery.
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At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that Cox and Hanners failed to provide adequate food, water, and medical care for the two horses. Cox continually insisted that the horses received adequate feedings despite the fact that both of the horses were visibly malnourished.
Cox was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail. Yesterday, Hanners turned himself in at the Marion County Jail.