Woman pleads guilty in animal cruelty deaths of 22 horses

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The woman arrested for animal cruelty after 22 horses died pleaded guilty to criminal charges on Friday.

Janet Elaine Laven Burleson, 64, was sentenced to 5-15 months in jail and 24 months probation. After that, she will be eligible to own animals again.

Wake County Sheriff's Office said Burleson owned the horses and brought them to her property during the summer of 2018.

She admitted to investigators that she had forgotten about them.

"To think of their suffering for so many months, and they couldn't get out -- I can't imagine," Sarah McDonald with Independent Animal Rescue said.

Burleson's attorney told the judge that Burleson started having mental health issues after getting into a car crash 16 years ago. The attorney said those issues affect Burleson's memory.

McDonald was not quick to accept the attorney's explanation.

"Just to forget the animals? I don't--I don't buy that," McDonald said.

The horses were found dead Jan. 18 on an abandoned lot in southern Wake County.

Burleson is the author of a book about miniature horses and how they could be used as guides for the blind called 'Healing Hooves.'
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