GRAND LAKE, Colo. (CBS4) – Two Colorado residents are now facing animal cruelty charges following the release of a video that shows their horse tied to a pickup truck and being pulled against his will. Grand County authorities announced the filing of charges against John Saldate, 59 and Amber Saldate, 33, on Tuesday afternoon. Both people face a single count of animal cruelty, a Class I misdemeanor.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office launched its investigation on Sunday after the disturbing video began making the rounds on social media. In it, you can hear a woman’s voice — the person shooting the video on a phone — yelling at the animal. The horse, named Trigger, is standing in the snow and a rope is tied to its halter. The rope is tied on the other end to the truck. The driver of the pickup then drives forward and the horse is thrown off balance and nearly falls over as it tries to keep up with the truck as it pulls away down a snowy road in the Grand Lake area.
The video can be seen below, but please be warned that it may be difficult to watch for some people.
The sheriff’s office said Tuesday that Trigger was seized by officials and “is now safe” at an animal welfare center located on Colorado’s Front Range. It was checked out at a veterinary clinic before being taken there.
CBS4 interviewed the female horse owner off camera on Monday. She said her family owns several horses and bought Trigger recently for a cheap sum from a previous owner because it had been giving the previous owner problems. She now recognizes she upset a lot of people with the video and is apologetic about it, saying she and her family “made our horse go through something that he shouldn’t have.”
A Grand County resident who lives in the area told CBS4 seeing the video made her “sick to my stomach.”
“I don’t believe they should have horses if they’re going to do that to them. It’s not appropriate. That’s not how you train a horse,” she said.
The Saldates are scheduled to appear in Grand County Court for an arraignment on Jan. 28. Those court proceedings will take place in Hot Sulfur Springs at the Grand County Courthouse.
Sheriff’s spokesman Matt Karzen said the case is drawing a large amount of interest, likely partially due to the fact that CBS4’s initial story was featured on the heavily-visited website Drudge Report.
“Our phone lines and email accounts are getting covered up with inquiries from people interested in the case. Because these events are now the subject of an active prosecution, our ethical obligations prohibit us from discussing it, but interested persons can attend the public court proceedings if they choose,” Karzen said.