Trial Begins In Miami Co. Animal Cruelty Case

April 22, 2014: Troy, OH - A Miami County prosecutor said Monday the owner of the disbanded Serenity Animal Rescue grossly mistreated animals in opening statements in a rare municipal court trial over animal cruelty.

Shula Woodworth, 46, has pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanors of animal cruelty filed as a result of an investigation into the rescue at 5275 S. Ohio 201, Tipp City. The charges involve alleged failure to provide enough food and water to 19 horses, 11 rabbits, two pigs, two alpaca and one Jersey calf. Woodworth’s lawyer countered Monday by saying she put the concerns of her animals first.

Woodworth is on trial before a jury selected Monday morning in county Municipal Court.

Humane Society officials seized more than 100 animals including horses from the property Feb. 24, 2013, as a result of an investigation by Sharon Karns, county humane agent.

Andrew Johnston, a municipal court prosecutor, said Woodworth engaged in “gross mistreatment of the animals that were staying at what’s called an animal rescue for want of a better name.”

Scott Blauvelt, defense lawyer, said Woodworth rescued animals - old, ill or unwanted - to give them “peace and comfort in their last days.” The case did not involve animal cruelty, he said adding, “At best, this is a woman who sacrificed herself and her family and always put the animals first.”

In testimony, Jennifer McQuinn, a Middletown veterinarian, said she conducted a triage of the 19 horse’s condition on the day they were seized. McQuinn said she observed varying degrees of malnutrition and dehydration and an insufficient quality of food.

She said she noted bark eaten off trees on the property to a level the horses could reach. “They tried to eat whatever they could find,” McQuinn said.

County Humane Agent Sharon Karns testified she visited Serenity Horse Rescue at least 15 times between September 2012 and Feb. 24, 2013, because of complaints about animals’ conditions.

Karns said Woodworth told her she was having problems caring for all the animals but said she was doing the best she could.

Story from WHIOTV.COM