Veterinarian, husband rearrested on animal cruelty charge

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A Polk County veterinarian and her husband have been rearrested for animal cruelty.

Gail Nichols, 66, and Paul Smith, 74, both from Lakeland, were first arrested in August after Polk County deputies raided their farm and seized 28 miniature horses, two-full sized horses, eight dogs and two parrots. Three miniature horses had to be euthanized, two because their hooves were so neglected their curled up like elf shoes.

This week, they were rearrested after medical results revealed an untreated horse suffered under their watch prior to their August arrest, deputies said. The animal had an overgrown bottom tooth that pushed the top tooth into the horse’s naval cavity, causing a large cavity.

When the top tooth was removed, a second infection and cavity were found next to it. After flushing, feed and infection that were found in the cavity flushed out through the horse's nose, according to a media release.

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Medical reports said the horse suffered significant pain during the time it was under Nichols and Smith’s care. The dental issue has since been treated, deputies said.

Both have since bonded out of jail. Two family dogs have been released back to their care, but the rest of the animals are under the county’s supervision. The animals’ conditions have been improving, according to the agency.