Legalities and other nonsense
Recently we asked you readers to help out Strawberry Mountain Mustangs. They wanted public input on sentencing recommendations for the neglect case involving a horse named Grace. The sentencing was on Monday, and we thought we’d take a minute to review the case.Grace after being rescued and fed food she could actually eat.
The good news is that the two women charged in the case will both be facing jail time. Teresa Ann Dicke was sentenced to 8 months and Linda Diane Fessenden to 90 days. While these sentences may not sound long enough to anyone who saw Grace’s condition when she was rescued, they’re much longer than what is typical in an animal neglect case. So yay for setting new precedent!
Another positive thing from this case is that Grace was seized immediately, to give her the best chance at recovery. When we say immediately, we mean it – the officer didn’t even wait for a warrant! This actually set new precedent as well. The defendants tried to challenge the use of Grace as evidence, claiming she had been seized illegally and was therefore inadmissable in court. The law allows for such intervention when a human life is at stake, but was unclear in regards to animals. Now, in Oregan state at least, there is precedent for it applying to animals as well. So yay for that too!
The bad news in this case is that the two defendants are still allowed to own horses. WTF, right? While case law states that they can (and have been!) banned from owning pets, horses are considered livestock, and the ban doesn’t apply to them. Although we’re very happy that cats and dogs are safe from these two, it seems incredibly illogical that the ban wouldn’t apply to whatever type of animal was actually involved in the neglect case.
Unfortunately, it’s rare to have an officer act as quickly as one did in Grace’s case. This is mostly because of the legal issues surrounding seizing an animal.
In Michigan recently, twelve malnourished horses were seized. The article states that animal control worked with the owner for months in an attempt to get the horses in better shape while still in the owner’s care. We agree that if an owner is cooperative, sometimes education alone can be effective. But these horses were not only skinny, they were suffering from various medical ailments as well – ranging from missing eyes to leg deformities! When the horses were finally seized, not only had their condition not improved, but a horse skeleton was found on the property. Surely in this case there was cause to act quickly?
We’re not trying to promote vigilantism or put down the entire justice system, but cases like these make us really wish for a large injection of common sense into the whole process!