Colo. rescue ranch operator pleads guilty to cruelty |

Colo. rescue ranch operator pleads guilty to cruelty

FORT COLLINS, Colorado ” A woman accused of mistreating horses and other animals at her Fort Collins rescue operation has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty.

Alesha Matchett faces four years of supervised probation and a still-undetermined amount of community service at her Oct. 1 sentencing.

Her attorney, David Johnson, said he cannot comment because of a gag order but said Matchett’s side will be heard at her sentencing.

In a deal with prosecutors, the 42-year-old Matchett pleaded guilty to a single count of animal cruelty on Aug. 8. She originally faced four counts.

Authorities seized dozens of underfed animals from the Animal Angels Horse Rescue ranch in three raids from December to February. They included horses, ponies and donkeys; five llamas; five pygmy goats; and one potbelly pig.

Many of the animals were sold because Matchett could not pay for their upkeep while they were in the custody of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department.

The plea agreement also requires Matchett undergo a mental health evaluation and limits her to owning 10 or fewer animals. Authorities will check Matchett’s rescue operation monthly to ensure she is complying with the limit.

Matchett’s trial was scheduled to start Monday. The four cruelty charges covered 22 horses, seven goats, seven llamas, a pig and a sheep.

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