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An employee of a lavender farm in Juab County has been arrested on a charge of aggravated cruelty to an animal for allegedly torturing a horse, a class A misdemeanor.
According to a charging document filed Monday in 4th District Court, Freeman A. Yoder, an employee at Young Living Lavender Farm in Mona, tied a draft horse to a truck on April 1 and drove faster and faster until the animal fell.
The 38-year-old Nephi man continued driving, dragging the horse on the ground by its head and neck, the court document says.
Yoder stopped the truck and got the horse back on its feet, then allegedly drove some more. The horse fell again and hit its head on the back the truck, denting the vehicle, the charging document alleges.
Once again, Yoder allegedly got the horse up and drove until it fell and was dragged along the ground. He eventually stopped and tried to force the animal to stand but was unsuccessful, the charging document says.
Juab County Sheriff's Lt. Brent Pulver said Wednesday that the horse has been under the continual care of a veterinarian since the incident.
"The last report from the veterinarian was that the horse has vastly improved and is expected to make a full medical recovery," he said.
Young Living has issued a statement saying it has strict animal care policies and condemns any animal mistreatment or abuse.
"This employee's actions were completely unacceptable, and he was immediately terminated and reported to the Juab County Sheriff's Office," the statement says. "We are fully cooperating with the Juab County Sheriff's Office and will press charges to see that this individual is prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
The sheriff's office says guests had taken video recordings of part of the incident, which the farm manager turned over to investigators.
An initial court appearance is scheduled on Tuesday for Yoder, who has been released on $680 bail, according to court documents.
The maximum punishment for a class A misdemeanor is one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.