In a groundbreaking lawsuit in Hillsboro, Oregon, Justice the horse is a party to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday against his former owner, for the costs of his medical care including his pain and suffering. According to animal advocacy group, Animal Legal Defense Fund, this case would be the first to allow animals the legal right to sue their owners in court.
“Horses, like Justice, are intelligent animals with the capacity for rich emotional lives. Oregon law already recognizes Justice’s right to be free from cruelty – this lawsuit simply expands the remedies available when abusers violate animals’ ‘legal rights,'” explains Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells.
When Justice was rescued, the Quarterhorse and Appaloosa stallion had been starved and suffered from frostbite, lice and rain rot. Because of the extreme neglect, the horse has been permanently physically and psychologically scarred requiring specialized care for the rest of his life. The horse’s abuser, Gwendolyn Vercher, pleaded guilty to animal neglect in 2017 and agreed to pay restitution for the cost of the horse’s care prior to July 6, 2017. The lawsuit seeks damages from that day forward, and the funds would be placed in a trust to pay for Justice’s ongoing care.
Justice remains in training at Sound Equine Options, an Oregon non-profit horse rescue, and his medical needs including a prolapsed penis remain a barrier for him finding a permanent home as well as the continuing costs of his care. The Oregon Supreme Court has recognized that animals should be considered individual “victims” in animal cruelty cases, however they are still classified as property.
Read the complaint here.
JUSTICE, an American Quarter Horse, by
and through his Guardian, Kim Mosiman,
(Photo of Justice the horse in groundbreaking lawsuit via Facebook)
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