GANT: Judge Rejects Guilty Plea in Horse Abuse Case

CLEARFIELD, Pa. – A guilty plea for a DuBois man accused of neglecting a horse leading to its death was rejected by the court Monday.

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Joseph Clyde Daniel Dush, 66, and his wife, Brenda Marie Dush, 51, were both charged in connection to the death of the horse in January of 2018.

The horse had slowly starved to death while tied to a tree with a bale of hay not far away, according to previous reports.

In February of last year, Brenda Marie Dush, pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals and neglect of animals, a misdemeanor.

At that time, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced her to serve nine months to two years less one day in jail and three years consecutive probation.

On Monday David Hopkins, Joseph Dush’s attorney, stated that Dush was in the hospital for 10 days prior to the death of the horse and the responsible party was his wife.

When Deputy District Attorney Trudy Lumadue stated he was pleading guilty but mentally ill for a probation only sentence, she told Ammerman that new District Attorney Ryan Sayers was asking the court to reject the plea because he does not stand by it.

The original plea was negotiated by the former District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. and his staff.

Hopkins commented that Dush was bi-polar, but Lumadue noted there were no medical records to confirm this.

Ammerman stated that it did not matter if he was mentally ill but admitted he did not know enough about his condition. He then rejected the plea.

During Brenda Dush’s sentencing hearing, Ammerman commented that he had received many letters about this case and stated that it was terrible that people had to watch the horse deteriorate.

At that hearing, Keri Coble, of the rescue group, One Dog at a Time, addressed the court explaining how the horse must have suffered. She said there was a bale of hay not far away, but it could not reach it because it was tied to a tree.

“This was an intentional act of starvation,” she said, adding that the horse, Cocoa, had even started to eat the tree.

The horse was near a church where people saw it every week. People tried to get help for it, and others even offered to buy her, but Brenda Dush refused and would not surrender it to a rescue group, Coble said.

Cocoa had zero percent body fat when she died, according to the vet who did the necropsy. He said he had never seen a case of starvation this bad.

Joseph Dush’s case will now be added back to the trial list for further disposition.

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