Woman sacked over ‘sickening’ video
A US couple were charged with animal cruelty after being caught on camera mistreating their horse - but the woman has claimed she's the real victim.
Over the weekend, footage of the shocking incident was shared on Facebook and immediately went viral, with social media users variously describing the video as "sickening", "awful" and "incredibly heartless".
It showed a horse named Trigger being violently dragged along an icy road after being tied to the back of a ute.
During the disturbing clip, a visibly distressed Trigger can be seen pulling to get free and sliding along the road in Denver, Colorado.
The horse's owners, Amber Saldate, 33, and husband John Saldate, 59, were later charged with misdemeanour animal cruelty this week following an investigation by the Grand County Sheriff's Office, according to CNN.
But in an emotional interview with CBS Denver in the wake of the scandal, Ms Saldate complained to reporter Matt Kroschel about the toll it had taken on her life.
"You make one bad decision sometimes and it can destroy your life," she said.
"I've lost my job over this, I've upset a lot of people. I made our horse go through something that he shouldn't have. I was wrong.
"I'm very sorry. I get why people are upset. I was so stupid, I don't know why we did it."
It is not known where Ms Saldate worked before the video went viral.
In a Facebook post yesterday, the Grand County Sheriff's Office confirmed the Saldates had both been charged with one count of animal cruelty, which is a class one misdemeanour under Colorado Law.
Authorities confirmed Trigger had been taken from the couple and was "now safe" and recovering from the ordeal.
"Our phone lines and email accounts are getting covered up with inquiries from people interested in the case," district attorney Matt Karzen said in a statement.
"Because these events are now the subject of an active prosecution, our ethical obligations prohibit us from discussing it, but interested persons can attend the public court proceedings if they choose."
The statement confirmed the case was investigated by the Grand County Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Grand County Animal Control, Colorado Human Society and 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The Saldates are due to appear in court in late January.
The Facebook post attracted an outpouring of likes, shares and comments, with many quick to praise authorities and slam the animal owners.
"Awful. They should never be allowed to have in their possession another equine or any other animal. Sickening," one Facebook user wrote, while another posted: "Please remove the other animals these people might own and will abuse. Incredibly heartless."
"If a person cannot handle a horse, then hire someone who can. No excuses to drag a horse behind any kind of vehicle," another said.
However, the backlash was so intense it led to other people with the same names as the couple being accused of the crimes on Facebook.