North Branch woman sentenced for charge of animal mistreatment

Court records show a North Branch woman has been sentenced after being convicted of one count of overworking and mistreating animals and depriving animals of food and shelter.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Carmen Marie Burth, 61, was convicted of the charge on Oct. 12.

The conviction came after a nearly three-year long legal battle that started in the fall of 2019. At that time, Animal Humane Society Investigator Amanda Oquist visited Burths’ property, where at least 21 horses were housed.

Monday afternoon, Judge Bridgid Dowdal sentenced Burth to one year of supervised probation in Chisago County. Dowdal also stayed a 90-day jail sentence at the Chisago County Jail.

Part of the probation terms include cooperating with a periodic welfare check of the animals on the property, and she can’t adopt, house or foster any additional animals.

A Sunrise Equine veterinarian examined 20 horses – prosecutors said one horse had died throughout the investigative process but did not say why – determining 11 needed to be taken because they were suffering from one or more health-related issues.

The horses’ issues included having overgrown hooves, having a skin infection called rain rot, having mouth ulcers, suffering from muscle wasting, having knotted manes and tails, hosting numbers of bot fly eggs, hosting lice, hosting intestinal parasites, having tooth issues requiring dental work, and possibly suffering from pneumonia.

Investigators also examined the horses’ food and found it was of low nutritional quality and was gray in some areas from mold. The complaint details Oquist repeatedly advising that Burth’s horses had visible bone structures, such as protruding ribs, and needed to be fed more.

After the investigations by North Branch police and animal welfare experts, Burth was charged with the singular count.

In September, the state made a motion to add nine additional misdemeanor counts due to the amount of evidence and animals involved. However, the court denied that motion in late November.