Thursday, April 15, 2010
Woman fined after horse dies of starvation
A Manitoba woman was unaware her horse was starving to death until she received a visit from animal welfare authorities, a judge was told Thursday.
Monique Legal-Deverill, 41, pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate care to a horse in her possession.
Court heard investigators were called to her Winnipeg area hobby farm Jan. 31, 2009, after receiving a complaint her two horses were not being fed properly.
Investigators found one dead horse and another emaciated. The dead horse weighed 225 kilograms, roughly half its normal weight.
Investigators found horse feed on the farm but not accessible to the animals.
Defence lawyer Brad King said his client believed she had been feeding the horses properly and thought they had been suffering from health problems.
“She was mortified by the situation,” King said. “She didn’t want to put the horse through any suffering, she believed she was doing what she needed to do.”
Judge Linda Giesbrecht didn’t conceal her skepticism.
“Having a farming background, I’m having difficulty understanding how a horse loses 400 pounds without an owner noticing until an inspector comes,” she said. “A horse doesn’t just drop dead one morning from starvation.”
According to investigators, a lack of feed resulted in the horses eating the wood from a windbreak and pawing at the ground to dig up grass. An autopsy of the dead horse found it had also eaten gravel.
Court heard Legal-Deverill received the horses in 2002 as gifts for her young daughters. In 2008, she assumed sole care for the horses after separating from her husband.
“The bottom line is that she was perhaps in over her head, didn’t realize it and didn’t do as much as she should have,” King said.
Giesbrecht fined Legal-Deverill $247, the penalty recommended by the Crown and investigators.
The maximum fine for first-time offenders is $5,000.
This sanction is completely appropriate! Good job Judge!