HARRISONVILLE, Mo. -- A man appeared in court Thursday to plead not guilty to a felony charge of animal abuse.
Roy Vance Hammond is accused of deliberately dragging a horse behind his pickup truck, causing the animal's death.
Hammond, 74, claimed that he was just trying to get his horse under control. He told deputies the mare went berserk and was a danger to people.
Hammond appeared with his attorney before a Cass County judge to plead not guilty to the animal abuse charge.
Deputies found a trail of blood that stretched more than a mile when they responded to East Orient Cemetery Road back in March.
Hammond told a deputy the horse had broken away from him five times, so he decided to tie the animal to the back of his truck and pull it down the roadway. Deputies noted that the horse had severe wounds to its feet and appeared to be in pain.
"He lives not too far from me," said Lisa Horner, an animal advocate who was in the courtroom. "I had heard the reports of what he has done. One my friends actually has to travel that road and said the blood is still on the road. It’s absolutely disgusting."
Horner circulated a petition asking that authorities seize other animals in Hammond's possession. That action has not been taken, but more than 1,000 people have signed a similar online petition.
The judge granted Hammond's request that he be allowed to have contact with a farrier, a man who shoes horses who's also a witness in the case. He's scheduled to be back in court on June 13.