Adopters say three misdemeanors not enough for charged Top Paw Rescue owner

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - The woman behind a Hudson animal rescue is now facing three criminal misdemeanor charges for her treatment of the animals.

Erika Horton is charged with three separate counts of violating state rules for keeping animals. The charging documents call her an “animal companion hoarder,” who failed to provide the animals with humane care and treatment, and “kept companion animals in a severely overcrowded environment.”

Her other charges include not providing sufficient food for a dog and cat. Horton is innocent until proven guilty, and posted bond Tuesday.

Her Class B misdemeanor charges carry a maximum possible sentence of 180 days in jail and fines up to $1,500.

Adopters from the rescue feel those charges are too lenient.

Earlier this year, 25News shared several stories of families bringing home pets from Top Paw, only to find out they were not vaccinated, fixed, and sometimes carried contagious diseases.

Adopters like Emily Duckworth, are still working to treat their dogs. They adopted one dog, Mushroom, from Top Paw. Mushroom was diagnosed with Giardia shortly after and passed it on to the family dog Lily.

Both dogs are still testing positive for the digestive virus, but are doing much better with their symptoms. Duckworth said the care has cost around $3,000 for her family, and they’ve had to delay other projects due to the cost.

“It felt like she got a slap on the wrist,” Duckworth said. “A lot of us are still dealing with it. A lot of us still have sick animals, and a lot of us still have to get them vaccinated, spayed, and neutered. A lot of us are still on this and there’s not a light at the end of the tunnel for everybody yet.”

Duckworth provided her testimony, veterinarian diagnoses, and information about the cost to McLean County Animal Control. MCAC was behind the investigation until charges were filed, now the case is under the State’s Attorney’s office.

“We were hoping for so much more,” Abby Smith said. Smith gathered information personally from adopters before turning things over to MCAC. “All of this evidence that all of these people I’ve been in contact with had submitted to this investigation... and this is all that it is? This is all she gets?”

McLean County State’s Attorney Erika Reynolds said it’s “doubtful” more charges will come up unless something changes.