Men plead not guilty to horse mutilation

Amber Willard

VAN NUYS -- Two Burbank men pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges

of animal cruelty and mutilation stemming from allegations that they

injected alcohol into a horse to keep its tail still during shows.

The men, Frederick Scott Johnson, 30, who owns the horse, and trainer

Michael Dunn, 30, entered their pleas April 26, along with Wyoming

veterinarian James Johnson Rushing.

If convicted, the men could receive up to a year in jail.

The men are accused of injecting the chestnut quarter horse, named

Michelle, in a procedure called tail blocking. The horse was allegedly

injected with alcohol near her tail in September while stabled at the Los

Angeles Equestrian Center to keep the tail from swishing in front of

competition judges.

The horse's tail was paralyzed by an infection caused by the

injections, said officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty

to Animals.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office, which filed the charges

against the men March 16, said it is illegal to alter a show horse for


A preliminary hearing for the men is scheduled for May 19 in Los

Angeles Superior Court in Van Nuys.

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