Horse sues former owner while continuing rehab from permanent ne - KPTV - FOX 12

Horse sues former owner while continuing rehab from permanent neglect injuries

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A horse named Justice is suing his former owner for $100,000 because of severe neglect that left the horse with permanent damage.

It’s a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit for Oregon.

Attorneys working the case say animals have protected rights in Oregon. They add, just like a human victim can sue their abusers, Justice the horse should be able to take action as well.

“He’s a character,” said one of Justice’s rescuers.

The roughly 8-year-old horse is looking healthy now, but it was just over a year ago when he was nearly unrecognizable.

Justice, a name given by his rescuers, was saved from a Cornelius farm in March of last year after months of neglect. 

“With him, it just hit so hard, especially when you know somebody has the means to take care of an animal and chooses not to, and lets them get into that shape,” said Kim Mosiman, the executive director for Sound Equine Options, the rescue organization that partners with law enforcement to rehabilitate, train and adopt horses coming from situations like Justice’s. “The whole gamut of emotions. You’re angry, you’re sad, you’re worried for him. And his future was very questionable for quite a while.”

According to court documents, Justice’s former owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, pleaded guilty to animal neglect in a 2017 criminal case and agreed to pay restitution for the horse’s care until July 6 of last year.

That’s where the Animal Legal Defense Fund comes in. They’re representing Justice in a potentially groundbreaking lawsuit – suing the horse’s former owner for damages since July 6, 2017, and going forward.

“Justice is essentially saying that – ‘Look, I still have all these injuries. I haven’t been adequately compensated.’ Therefore, he is going to find a lot more difficult time finding a forever home,” said Sarah Hanneken, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“It’s so clearly a direct result of that criminal neglect that it seemed for sure the right decision for him,” said Mosiman.

It’s a decision that could set precedent for animals to, one day, stick up for themselves in court.

“This is the first crack at it and Justice presents a very compelling story,” said Hanneken.

Hanneken said they are still working to reach the defendant, Vercher, in this case.

They expect Vercher will move to dismiss it, at which point attorneys say they will appeal their case.

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