Horse News

NV Wild Horse Advocates Acquitted on Horse Dumping Charges

“Two witnesses described abusive behavior that they suffered at the hands of NV AG Director Jim Barbee…”

Allison Joffee, Lacy J. Dalton, Willis Lamm, Robert Hager and Shirley Allen (front) pose for courtroom spectators after Judge McMorris rendered his verdict.  Photo by Mikel Hettrick

Allison Joffee, Lacy J. Dalton, Willis Lamm, Robert Hager and Shirley Allen (front) pose for courtroom spectators after Judge McMorris rendered his verdict. Photo by Mikel Hettrick

RENO, NV – After a day-long trial in the historic Storey County Court House, Judge Steve McMorris acquitted the Let ‘Em Run Foundation and horse advocates Willis Lamm and Shirley Allen on all charges brought about by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

Director of Agriculture Jim Barbee had alleged that the defendants had dumped eight former Virginia Range horses onto the open range without rebranding the horses, that they had abandoned them and that they had let them starve. Barbee then widely spread those allegations in the press and throughout the State Legislature.

The defendants argued that the horses had been placed on the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, which was private land, with the permission of the Managing Partner, Lance Gilman.

In court, one of the department’s own witnesses described the industrial center as over 100,000 acres of private property with a fence that was “built strong enough to keep Arabs out.” It was acknowledged that anyone’s fences could be vandalized but that as a legal matter, the defendants position was ruled as correct in that the property was properly enclosed.

Another of the state’s witnesses, who acknowledged in court that he had memory problems when he drank too much, had claimed that he found a horse that had belonged to Let ‘Em Run that had starved to death. His claims were soundly rebutted by veterinarian Gerald Peck who analyzed photographs of the horse and explained why the horse could not have starved to death. Judge McMorris commented when looking at the photo of another horse provided by the Department that the horse in that photo “looked fat.”

Department Brand Inspector Blaine Northrup admitted under cross examination that he had no factual basis for the allegations of abandonment or failure to provide necessary food or drink, and also that he had not even been out to the industrial center property. He eventually admitted that he got most of the details that he put in his investigative report off a web site on the Internet.

Two witnesses described abusive behavior that they suffered at the hands of Director Jim Barbee in an encounter with him on a public street in Reno.

When questioned, defendant Lamm described an instance when State Veterinarian Phil LaRussa ordered then department employee Mike Holmes to take an orphan foal and “pop it in the head and put it in the landfill.” That event followed an encounter between LaRussa and defendant Shirley Allen wherein LaRussa warned that he would kill orphan foals if Allen and Lamm didn’t do certain favors for the Director. Both events had been recorded and posted on YouTube, drawing the ire of the department.

For many years Allen has cared for orphan foals for various agencies and other horse groups.

Lamm was also questioned about a complaint that he filed with the Nevada Attorney General that described an event where Northrup participated in the secret delivery of Virginia Range horses to kill buyer Kevin D. “Ole” Olsen of Elko, Nevada. At the time of the complaint, the delivery was corroborated by then Brand Inspector Darryl Peterson. The Attorney General declined to pursue the incident when records that documented the event appeared to have gone missing.

The defendants have historically hounded the Nevada Department of Agriculture, an agency that they characterize as being dishonest and holding itself above the law. Their present position is that the department’s prosecution constituted a form of reprisal that most likely violated Federal law.

The acquitted defendants are discussing their options with their legal counsel in hopes of preventing the continuance of the department’s bad conduct.

When Judge McMorris announced the verdicts a courtroom full of supporters celebrated the victory. Then all went home to feed their animals.

The advocates were defended by Allison Joffee and Robert Hager.

12 replies »

  1. ? Thats a no brainer sue their asses off private and office. As far as donking foals in the head send that idiot our way i hAve a brick wrapped in Christmas paper and it doesnt donk foals i assure you!

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  2. PSAs probably got all excited at this court date, shows the depth of corruption and the circumstances we are fighting daily. This regiment of lies, brigades of rudeness, and witch hunting to light their ownselves on fire in the end! If they used as much effort to save horses as it took to witch hunt and illegally go to trial there would be less suffering for horses because these people would have not lost time from working. They should sue for money to support the horses cause that would light their panties on fire, try to prosecute them thenend up paying their feed bills! We need to find some justice. I still have the brick, if thry wanna borrow it. I am sorry but if someone told me they would or i should donk.a foal in the, i may be a lady but when they woke up.they would find me reciting a list of reasons why they got donked on the head. Then i am certain an ide

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  3. sorry incomplete sentence. Then I am certain an idea would pop into their heads that clearly indicates NO ONE is allowed to donk foals over the head! As for the veterinarian, can they see to it that their testimony gets his license suspended for a moment considering what was his suggestion? He has a commitment to save animals and not being abusive to put them down. It’s not a lethal injection or a gunshot, that’s really seriously abuse! That was the accepted normal in some registries a few years back, Paint owners would donk the animals that didn’t come out colorful! Sickening that it took Genetic mapping for colors to prevent that from being widespread anymore. Don’t believe me? Its a story actually highlighted in the AQHA journal and it describes the abusive practices, the story was printed in the 1980’s. Sometimes they forget they wrote their own roadmaps to prove the suffering of the horses regardless of the breeding. I still say let them lead them foals down a dark alley, you WILL hear the donk, but the foals will be running back out of their own accord! LOL!

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    • Makes you wanna donk them like i do? These people have been doing that kind of garbage for years. I had a really hard time putting down and ill foal, the vet was kind, he even shed tears and left the barn comforting our family. He felt the pain himself, but to see a vet be that callous well like i said they deserve a suspension and an honorary donk on their head. These foals didnt harm anyone by their birth, so often mans errors cause horses pain.

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  4. I would like to see a viral petition to remove these people from any control over any animals ever and that the BLM needs to be re-organized, just as the Fish & Wildlife/Game, people that are suppose to be guardians of the animals are actually behaving as they are soldiers of the 3rd rite, under Hitler’s regime, only with a blood lust to exterminate the animals. Sick to death of these inbred freaks murdering our animals and getting away with it!

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    • Dominique Osh, these horses are the Virginia Range wild horses. Not protected by the Federal Wild Horse and Burro laws. They belong to the State of Nevada and it was the Nevada Dept of AG and the Governor who are in control of them, not the BLM.

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      • Are you sure Sharon? The BLM is in charge of all the Wild Horses in NV and every other State, they have 3 state offices in NV, one in Carson City,and they work together with all other agencies of “Wildlife Management”, and they are all politically of the same mindset, doesn’t matter whose name is associated with this specific incident, the ultimate agency responsible is at the Federal level.

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      • Yes Sharon is correct.The Virignia Range Horses are STATE OF NEVADA horses and are not federally protected. Gov. Brian Sandoval did sign into law this summer protection for the Virginia Range Horses.

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  5. Under cross-examination, he admitted the department took no action to ensure horses already on the range were not starviing.

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