2 arrested, accused of animal cruelty in Marion County, deputies say

Deputies called after 2 horses found to be ‘severely malnourished’

Marion County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture Unit members arrested Tyler Hanners, left, and Mercedees Cox for two counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty. (Marion County Sheriff's Office)

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A man and woman from Marion County were arrested within the week, accused of aggravated animal cruelty, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the report, 27-year-old Tyler Hanners and 24-year-old Mercedees Cox were arrested on two counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

MCSO said its office received an anonymous call Aug. 31 regarding two horses being starved at 16600 block of SW 42nd Loop.

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When deputies followed up on the tip, they found two horses that were severely malnourished – an 8-year-old mare named Cinnamon and a 18-year-old mare named Broadway, according to a news release.

Members of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture Unit and Marion County Animal Control responded to conduct an animal abuse investigation and discovered that both horses “lost a significant amount of weight” since being purchased by Cox and Hanners in June 2022.

Veterinary care was requested due to the animals’ poor condition, according to officials.

An on-call veterinarian examined Broadway and determined she had colic from ingesting sand, a displaced colon, and a body condition score of one, which indicates she was emaciated and was recommended for “medical euthanasia to prevent further suffering.”

Cinnamon was examined and diagnosed with rain rot, heaves, a heart murmur, and a body condition score of two. According to the release, the veterinarian determined that with proper medication and feeding regimen, Cinnamon is expected to make a full recovery.

MSCO said the conclusion of its investigation showed Cox and Hanners failed to provide adequate food, water and veterinarian care for the two horses.

Cox was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail on Thursday and Hanners turned himself in on Tuesday. Both have since posted bond and are released for the time being, with Cox having left Friday and Hanners on Wednesday.

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About the Author:

Jacob joined ClickOrlando.com in 2022. He spent 19 years at the Orlando Sentinel, mostly as a photojournalist and video journalist, before joining Spectrum News 13 as a web editor and digital journalist in 2021.