Community split on horse cruelty case

HEBRON, Md. – In Wicomico County, a judge has given no jail time to Barbara Pilchard , the Hebron horse farm owner who was found guilty for neglecting 13 of her horses earlier this year.

“She is not facing any active incarceration, she did not go to jail today,” exclaims Wicomico County Deputy State’s Attorney Bill McDermott.

It’s a sentence that has come as a surprise and a disappointment for many in the community.

Calvin and Ivy Hamilton say, “I think she had good intentions but she should’ve asked for help and I think she should do some time for it. I think so too.”

McDermott adds, “As prosecutors were disappointed. We did go to court today and we made a recommendation of 13 months of active incarceration.”

So while many were expecting a stricter sentence, Pilchard didn’t get off scott free. The 74-year-old is facing a five year probation, plus a $13,000 fine.

It’s a probation that ensures Pilchard doesn’t own any animals, gives Animal Control permission to make random, unannounced visits to her home and requires mental health treatment.

“Clearly Ms. Pilchard if left to her own devices can’t control or will not control her own actions and so the idea that she cant have any animals is at least some comfort and some relief that there wont be further animals victimized by Ms. Pilchard,” explains Pilchard.

It’s a punishment that some believe is enough, but not everyone.

Caleb Weed says, “I would say probation I mean she’s got five years of probation so that’s going to put a hold on her life. I mean five years and $13,000 I mean that’s a lot of money. So like you said 13 horses, that’s $1,000 a horse. In my opinion that would be an adequate sentence.”

But the Hamilton’s say otherwise, “Too lenient because those horses were deplorable and it went on for some time and they suffered.”

But despite the frustrations, the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office believes Pilchard was held accountable for neglecting and causing an unnecessary amount of suffering to her horses.

“I don’t know that today is much about closure as it is about making sure that the people of this county know that were out here and were ready and willing to hold people accountable if they mistreat their animals.”

We’re told this case isn’t completely over, the Wicomico County State’s Attorney’s Office is actually seeking restitution from Barbara Pilchard.

The hearing has been set for 60 days out. They tell 47 ABC there were a lot of resources put into play because of the negligent and cruel actions of Pilchard, so they’re hoping to recover as many damages as possible for the organizations that helped rescue and take care of her horses.

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