An Elkhorn woman who threatened a veterinarian was charged with a felony after a doctor decided to euthanize an underfed horse that was in the woman’s care, according to a criminal complaint filed in Walworth County Court.
Prosecutors say another malnourished horse at the woman’s home died a month earlier.
Prosecutors on April 9 charged Thereasa A. Wirkus, 39, of W4885 Remer Road, with felony mistreatment of animals and misdemeanor failing to provide proper food to confined animals.
A Rock County veterinarian on Dec. 1 visited Wirkus’ property to check on a horse. But the vet noticed a different animal, “a quarter horse named Gent,” was in poor condition, the complaint states.
Body condition scores rate horses from 1 to 9, with 1 being underweight, 4.5 to 5.5 being good and 9 being overweight, according to the complaint. The vet said Gent had a score of 2 or less.
Upon hearing this, Wirkus said she was not able to buy hay for about a month because of money problems, the complaint states.
When the vet brought up Gent’s condition in a later conversation, Wirkus threatened her, saying she would end the vet’s career and that anyone who showed up to the property to check on the horses would get a gun to the head, according to the complaint.
When police arrived at Wirkus’ home Dec. 3, Gent was “laying on its side in the mud and was unable to stand up,” the complaint states. The amount of mud in the stall also made it hard to stand, and police could not get Gent to stand up.
A doctor from the Wisconsin Equine Clinic and Hospital, who also visited the home, said Gent was dehydrated and had a low temperature, according to the complaint. That doctor believed Gent was in shock.
After failing to get Gent to stand, they euthanized the horse, who had a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, the complaint states.
Gent, who was owned by Wirkus’ sister, was 3 years old. Wirkus’ sister paid for Gent’s food and was under the impression Wirkus was taking care of him, the complaint states.
Gent was underfed, according to the complaint.
A Badger Veterinary Hospital report also shows veterinary staff in November decided to euthanize a horse, which ended up dying before the euthanasia solution was drawn up, the complaint states. That horse was described as “severely muscle wasted and skinny.”
Wirkus is set to make her initial appearance at 1:15 p.m. June 19.