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Woman pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges at horse sanctuary

June 20, 2008 |  2:26 pm

A 57-year-old woman charged with 30 felony counts of animal cruelty has pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Lancaster.

Janis Ridgeway Damiani, caretaker of a Pearblossom sanctuary for old and sick horses, is being held in Los Angeles County sheriff's custody on $600,000 bail. She made her plea Wednesday.

She was arrested at Equus Sanctuary on Monday after county officials said 15 horses in her care were emaciated, weak or had sores and that the facility lacked water and food.

The horses were euthanized, along with a dog and 14 cats that authorities said were also starving or injured. An additional 100 horses were confiscated from the sanctuary and placed at other facilities.

If convicted, Damiani faces up to 24 years in prison. A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for June 30.

-- Jill Leovy

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