Central Point woman pleads guilty to horse abuse

On the eve of her scheduled criminal trial on five counts of animal abuse involving horses, a Central Point woman pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to all counts.

Debbie Tabor, 58, offered her five guilty pleas Monday before Judge Ray White, pleading guilty to one count of first-degree animal abuse and four counts of second-degree animal abuse. Tabor will be sentenced next month.

One of Tabor's five horses was dead when authorities arrived at a Central Point property in mid-August 2008 to investigate a complaint of animal starvation, officials said.

The rest of Tabor's small herd would survive the ordeal but was discovered in such deplorable condition that shelter officers called in Jackson County sheriff's deputies to file criminal charges, said Colleen Macuk, program director for Jackson County Animal Care and Control Center.

Tabor originally pleaded not guilty to all charges. There have been several trail continuances leading up to Tabor's guilty pleas on Monday. Tabor was jailed in July for three days by Judge Tim Barnack after failing to appear for a court appearance. She was released after posting $25,000 bail, court records show.

A two-day jury trial was set to begin Tuesday. But Tabor appeared Monday to change her pleas. She will be sentenced on October 19, records show.

Macuk described the scene animal control officers witnessed last summer as "the worst we've seen in quite awhile." The ill and emaciated horses were kept in makeshift pens at a Central Point property Tabor did not own, she added.

Tabor signed all the horses over to animal control, Macuk said. Because the county has no facility to house horses, volunteers from the Equamore Foundation responded to animal control's request to house and care for the two surviving stallions two mares, she added.

The weak, ill and half-wild horses were herded into trailers with the aid of panels and taken to the Ashland farm where they were assessed by veterinarians and cared for by volunteers.

The four Central Point horses' matted manes, rotting coats and skeletal bodies told a tale of long-term neglect, said Linda Davis, owner of Eden Farm and the founder of Equamore, a nonprofit rescue organization in Ashland that provides care and placement for neglected and abused horses.

One year after their rescue, the four surviving horses are all in good condition and "are all available for adoption to the perfect forever home," said Davis.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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