Resident George Wilson and his wife, Ann Gilbreth, faced charges of one count each of cruelty to animals at their arraignment on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Wilson, a former Channel 3 reporter, pleaded not guilty while the charges against Gilbreth were initially dismissed for lack of probable cause. According to reports Shelburne Police did not state that Gilbreth co-owned the horses in the original affidavit which was why Judge Michael Kupersmith was unable to find probable cause. Reports also indicate that Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s T.J. Donovan’s office will re-file the charge against Gilbreth now that the Shelburne Police provided the missing information. The charges allege that the couple denied the horses’ adequate sanitation or necessary medical attention. They face a possible one year prison term and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
Following a complaint from the town animal control officer, Shelburne Town Health Officer Bob Lake did a spot inspection of the residence on Friday, Jan. 11 according to reports. Four days later Lake returned to the property, checked the barn, and found the horses. Shelburne Police, the Shelburne Fire Department, the State Agriculture Department, and the Humane Society of Chittenden County were also called to the scene.
According to a news release the horses, a stallion and two mares, were standing in several feet of manure and were running out of room to stand upright. The owner agreed to surrender the horses and they were impounded and are now being cared for at Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon.
The charges came on the heels of a meeting held Monday, Jan. 28 between State’s Attorney Donovan, Shelburne police officials, and health experts who discussed the investigation and treatment of the three horses that were seized from the couple’s home on Irish Hill Road.
The couple was released from court on conditions, including a ban on buying, owning or possessing large domestic animals.