A Walton County couple is facing animal cruelty charges after an investigation at their home in Freeport.
According to the Walton County Sheriff's Office, the investigation began after deputies went to the residence at 240 Four Mile Road for an unrelated matter on March 3. While there, officers reportedly observed six horses that appeared to be in poor health.
The next day, March 4, deputies returned with a veterinarian and animal control officers to assess the conditions of the horses. The WCSO said four of the horses were immediately removed and transported to Alaqua Animal Refuge.
Investigators then began to look further into the treatment of the horses as well as other animals present at the residence and removed the other two horses, four puppies and a piglet on March 7. The horses and the piglet were transported and treated at Alaqua Animal Refuge. The puppies were taken to the Walton County Animal Shelter for treatment.
Deputies arrested Crystal Sue Esquibel, 27, and James Richard Holzapfel III, 37. Both were charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty, a third degree felony, and booked into the Walton County Department of Corrections.