Equine Rescue

A Horse Who Sued A Person Provokes Oregon AG Interests

by as published on OPD.org

Three Oregon agriculture groups are opposing a lawsuit to expand animal rights, and allow nonhuman victims to recoup damages from abusive people.

The case puts a fundamental question to the courts: Can a horse sue a person?

Justice shortly after he arrived at a horse rescue in 2017.
Courtesy of Sound Equine Options

Last year a Washington County judge ruled no, dismissing a complaint filed on behalf of a horse named Justice. The complaint sought damages from a woman whose neglect left the horse with serious injuries and ongoing medical needs.

Animal Legal Defense Fund appealed the dismissal, and has long argued animal cruelty laws aren’t enough when victims have no standing in the court system.

The Oregon Farm Bureau is leading opposition to any precedent for animal personhood, joined by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and the Dairy Farmer’s Association. The agricultural groups jointly filed a friend of the court brief on Nov. 7.

“This case puts the livestock industry and rural Oregon at risk,” according to a Farm Bureau statement this month.

The statement goes on to renounce the facts of Justice’s case as “abhorrent.”

“However, Oregon law already has severe consequences for those who abuse and neglect animals … This case is simply an effort by animal rights activists to pull the ultimate thread in a longstanding effort to unravel and halt livestock operations in Oregon.”

Over the years there have been many failed attempts to get the courts to recognize animals as plaintiffs.

After Justice the horse starved, attorneys sued his former owner Gwendolyn Vercher for more than $100,000 in damages. Vercher, of Cornelius, Oregon, has been criminally convicted on a misdemeanor charge of animal neglect in the first degree. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay about $4,000 in fines, according to court records.

In the civil suit, attorneys named a woman who helped rescue and rehabilitate Justice as his guardian. Upon dismissal of the complaint, the guardian was ordered to pay Vercher $1,500 in court fees. Vercher unsuccessfully sought repayment for legal fees and an additional $5,000.

Due to injuries related to malnutrition, untreated infection and frostbite, Justice “most likely will eventually have to have part of his penis amputated,” and will need ongoing medical management, according to the rescue group caring for him, Sound Equine Options.

9 replies »

  1. Frankly, if an animal ever deserved the ability to penalize someone – this poor boy did and hes only 8! This person’s idea of “free-grazing” sort of boggles the mind! She got off easy. The judge charging this abuser’s legal fees to the person that rehabbed him – that certainly should be re-addressed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think suing on behalf of the horses is a great idea. The courts would be overwhelmed!!!! Suing on behalf of the Wild horses and burrow, for the race horses, for farm horses, Amish horses, abuse of any kind. That would be Great I think. They have NO Voice and they need us!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In a country where we now accept that non-human corporate entities are entitled to rights as “persons” and infuse many millions of dollars into dark money political efforts, it is no leap for me that we should allow much more innocent non-humans similar respect and representation. That they have no voice in their ownership should amplify, not minimize, the need for legal “standing” in their own lives.

    Livestock interests opposing this should fear nothing if their own care standards are legal, humane, and ethical. Otherwise their protests carry little water. Everyone well knows our existing laws are only occasionally enforced but the animals who are “owned” suffer every whim of human nature, good or bad. Surely we can do better as a “civilized” country?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Baha’i Writings ~ “To the blessed animals, however, the utmost kindness should be exercised: the more the better it will be. The physical sensibilities and instincts are common to animal and man.
    Man is, however, negligent of this reality and imagines that sensibility is peculiar to mankind; therefore he practices cruelty to the animal….. Man is generally sinful and the animal is innocent. Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals … Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, man is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. …man’s food is intended to be grain and not meat. When mankind is more fully developed, the eating of meat will gradually cease. …Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts… it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing.”
    Hadith No. 557 ~ ”O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals? He replied: Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate.”
    Proverbs 12.10 ~ A righteous man has regard for the life of his animals.
    Psalm 34:16 ~ The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. God created all the animals
    Psalm 50:10 ~God cares for the animals. “Jesus said: ‘are not the five sparrows sold for two copper coins and not one of them is forgotten before God.
    Psalm 104 ~ All animals belong to God.
    The Bible repeatedly affirms that all creation participates in the praise of God, and each living thing has a part in God’s great purposes.
    Mahatma Gandhi ~ “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
    Buddha ~ “It is more important to prevent animal suffering, rather than sit to contemplate the evils of the universe praying in the company of priests.”
    Pythagoras ~ “For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

    Liked by 1 person

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