LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A woman who rescues horses is facing felony charges in Livingston Parish. Sheriff Jason Ard says she used his name and uniformed officers to bully a man into handing over his horses.
9News Investigator Cheryl Mercedes was there when the woman was hauled off to jail.
Alysia Maloney has a way with horses. The former equestrian says she now spends most of her free time rescuing horses. "I get calls all the time with people wanting to surrender horses," said Maloney.
Maloney says on Tuesday, June 6, a man in Maurepas surrendered three of his horses to her. One of them, a mare named Baby, she says was in danger of dying. She showed 9News a picture she said she took of it when she visited the property last week.
"Anybody, even if you're not a horse person, can go out and see that the horse needs immediate vet care and the only logical way to do this is to seize the animal," said Maloney.
According to the police report obtained by the 9News Investigators, Maloney filed a complaint with the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office on Friday, stating two horses on a property in Maurepas were malnourished and appeared to be near death.
The next day, Maloney emailed Sheriff Ard asking for an update on the investigation and stated she is working with state cruelty investigators. In the email, she informs him that if he orders the horses to be seized, she has transportation ready to move them.
In his response, Sheriff Ard lets Maloney know he has a vet involved and that the situation is being handled.
"We told them that was not okay, that this horse was in such critical condition that the horse needed to be immediately seized," said Maloney.
Maloney also said on Tuesday, when the sheriff's office did not seize the horses, she obtained an Animal Surrender Form from the Louisiana Animal Cruelty Investigation Task Force and took action herself.
"How did you get this guy to surrender the horses," asked reporter, Cheryl Mercedes.
"Well, by letting him know we care, we want to help, and that eventually they would be seized," Maloney answered.
The owner, Scott Burchfield, says he surrendered the horses after Maloney told him that she was acting on behalf of the sheriff. He added Maloney arrived with two uniformed police officers who typically assist her with rescues, which made him believe her story.
"She said that she had spoken with Sheriff Ard and that they were going to change the report the following morning and they were going to be pursuing criminal charges against me," said Burchfield.
Sheriff Ard says he said no such thing. He says Maloney pulled a fast one on the officers and Burchfield. When Sheriff Ard got wind that Maloney was bragging about the seizure on Facebook, he was floored. "She basically went on what her perception was and gets uniformed police officers and tricked them into going to this residence with her and basically forced this man into signing some papers and loaded his horses up and left with them," said Ard.
Maloney was arrested Wednesday night as she was leaving the barn where she was holding Burchfield's horses. She insists she did nothing wrong.
"I did what I think is right for the horse and I thought we were working alongside the Livingston Parish Sheriff and obviously, they think this is a problem and it's because they are being called out. Period," said Maloney.
Deputies obtained a search warrant for the property to allow Burchfield to recover his horses. Burchfield says the mare, Baby, became ill from a bacterial infection contracted during the August 2016 flood. He says once the horses are home, he will have a vet check on them and follow doctor's orders.
As for Maloney and her rescue efforts, Burchfield says, "I'm thankful for the organizations out there. I think they do a great thing, and I wish her the best and I hope everything turns out okay for her."
A representative with the Louisiana State Animal Cruelty Investigation Task Force told the 9News Investigators Maloney is not one of their investigators. Maloney is charged with three counts of extortion and one count of obstruction of justice.
She was released from the Livingston Parish Detention Center on $100,000 bond.
She could also face charges in St. Tammany Parish.