Judge orders mental health treatment for woman who abused animals

A La Plata County woman charged in a massive animal abuse case who violated the terms of her probation by possessing animals won’t face any new penalties, but must undergo more extensive mental health treatments.

Elizabeth and Jeffery Jackson were charged with more than 100 counts of animal cruelty after animals were found on their property living in cages filled with urine and feces, lacked access to food and water, and had injuries that went untreated.

Ultimately, the Jacksons struck a plea agreement that called for three years’ probation, during which time the couple were not allowed to have animals in their possession.

This summer, however, authorities were alerted the Jacksons once again had animals on their property. A search on Aug. 5 found several animals, including dogs, cats, horses and goats, according to court documents.

This fall, the Jacksons had their probations revoked and were ordered to undergo mental health evaluations.

At a hearing Thursday, court officials said Jeffery Jackson’s evaluation is pending and his resentencing was set for the end of January.

Elizabeth Jackson, however, had her evaluations completed.

As a result of those evaluations, the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office recommended that Elizabeth Jackson’s three-year probation sentence be restarted, and she undergo even more intensive mental health care treatment.

Elizabeth Jackson’s defense attorney Jason Eley agreed, arguing Elizabeth Jackson’s behavior was not “criminal in nature,” but rather caused by mental health issues.

A previous evaluation said Elizabeth Jackson suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because she can’t be around animals, according to visiting Judge Adele Anderson. The judge suggested having her do supervised community service around animals, which could perhaps teach her how to treat animals responsibly.

David Ottman, assistant district attorney, was hesitant about the suggestion, saying authorities seized 116 animals, some of which were starving to death, which “is a pretty horrible way to die.”

“These animals … suffered horrifically,” Ottman said.

Previous reports showed animals were deprived of necessary sustenance, mistreated and neglected. Nearly all the animals were in danger of stepping on metal debris strewn around the property.

Among some of the examples:

A horse was in such poor condition it had to be euthanized. A duck and chickens were found in “a filthy cage surrounded by urine and feces, without access to food or water.”Two small Shih Tzu-mix dogs were found with severely matted hair, one of which was stuck to the floor of the residence by its own feces. A white sheep was seen on videos limping.Anderson reinstated and reset Elizabeth Jackson’s original probation, with the same terms and agreements. She is able to apply for early release after two years of probation if she is in full compliance.

Elizabeth Jackson must complete 50 hours public service. As it stands, Anderson said the community service can’t be with animals, unless after mental health evaluations and treatment there is a recommendation it could be useful in her recovery.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Jackson may not own or possess animals and must allow random inspections of her property. She is required to pay restitution, as well as court fees.

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