Little Falls woman charged with a felony for starving animals

Denise Ethyl Lagou, 49, Little Falls, was charged July 8 in the Seventh Judicial District Court in Little Falls with  felony overworking and/or mistreating animals.

In February, the Animal Humane Society received a report of starving horses at a residence on 145th Street in Morrison County.

An agent and a Morrison County deputy went to the residence, owned by Lagou. She allegedly agreed to give them a tour of the property.

In the first pasture were seven live horses which were allegedly in various stages of being underweight. Also observed was a dead horse in a pole shed.

The agent noted hay was available, but the water tank was frozen despite the fact there was a tank heater inside.

According to the criminal complaint, Lagou said the circuit breaker had tripped off.

In the next pasture, the agent and the deputy observed an underweight male horse.

When asked about the dead horse, Lagou allegedly said the horse was in the pasture the previous day and did not understand why he was now dead.

The agent said the horse was in poor body condition and could not survive in the very cold weather. He told Lagou the horse needed to go to the University of Minnesota for a cause of death necropsy.

On Feb. 22, the horse was delivered to the University’s diagnostic lab and results showed the horse suffered from severe emaciation with muscle atrophy and serious atrophy of fat.

The pathologist said the cause of death was, “Likely prolonged malnutrition.”

If convicted, Lagou faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.