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Vet working neglect case is stuck with the bill..

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  • #61
    Goodness only knows what reality is here. The one thing that struck me is that the horses were seized in June 2018 and supposedly released in August 2018. I cannot imagine any legal proceedings were resolved that quickly

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by Marshfield View Post
      Goodness only knows what reality is here. The one thing that struck me is that the horses were seized in June 2018 and supposedly released in August 2018. I cannot imagine any legal proceedings were resolved that quickly
      No idea about that jurisdiction ...

      ... but in the state where I live, there has already been a long judicial process before a seizure is authorized. More than one court hearing about the neglect/abuse; the neglectful/abusive owner is supposed to be in attendance; the court tries to compel changes to improve the situation so seizure isn't necessary; and finally seizure as a last resort.

      Here, the new owner is designated along with the seizure orders, so there is no mystery. In most cases the new owner is the county, who keeps seized livestock for 30 days and then sends it to auction.

      If something like that happened, the legal process started long before the actual seizure. Ownership was designated when the seizure was ordered. Everything after that was the decision of the new owner. My speculation is that the new owner was the AHS, as AHS has obviously become cooperative with the courts and law enforcement in that state (which is a considerable accomplishment by a rescue/humane organization). But I don't know, it could be more complicated than that.

      Comment


      • #63
        And one more point, re a rescue organization issue ...

        The vet in this case, who has kept these ponies for 2 years and is refusing to either place the ponies in new homes, or to release them back to AHS, is very likely far outside the legal guidelines of the AHS as a charitable rescue organization. It isn't just the AHS that could become very concerned. This vet is likely crossing some legal boundaries governing 501(c)3 rescues and rescue associates.

        When a rescue organization places a horse with a foster or, in this case, a 'partner', it's intended as a temporary holding situation. It may go on for months, even a year or more, but the intention is that the horse will eventually be adopted. The foster or 'partner' may decide to adopt or it may be someone else.

        The rescue organization typically pays something to the foster or partner to at least help with upkeep. Paying vet and farrier bills is usual. There may be a stipend for feed.

        But the foster or partner doesn't get to keep the horse forever on the rescue's dime. It's not intended to be a free horse for the foster or partner, or partially free horse. That is not an ok use for rescue donor funds.

        The rescue's donors intend for their dollars to keep moving on to new rescues and adoptions. It's the organization's stated purpose for the donations, and that becomes a legal obligation for the rescue.

        If an adoption is slow in coming, then at some point the rescue will often feel obligated to at least move the horse to another foster or partner. And if the foster or partner has become attached to the horse, sometimes the notice of an impending move will encourage a foster or partner to go ahead and adopt.

        Another reason to stay on top of the length of time a horse is with one foster or partner is that the legal regulations governing 501(c)3 organizations are tetchy about the organization adhering to their written goals and processes, and also not allowing associates (or family/friends) to benefit (with a free horse) at the expense of the 501(c)3. And also to appropriate use of organizational assets, and my understanding is that a horse belonging to a rescue organization is legally an asset of that organization.

        So I'm adding to my wide-ranging speculations that not only does the AHS no longer have any obligation to help the vet financially with these ponies, the vet may possibly be exposing herself to the IRS, at least, and perhaps the state attorney, for her attempts to get the county and the AHS to pay for 72 ponies to keep for herself. And depending on the size of the assumed financial benefit, things could become very serious for the vet, for misuse of charitable assets, at the least. There have been some interesting prosecutions related to misuse of horse rescues to the benefit of those associated with the rescue, including keeping the horses for themselves at the donors' expense. The AHS may be doing her a favor by holding out from any more financial help.

        Comment


        • #64
          Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post


          ... but in the state where I live, there has already been a long judicial process before a seizure is authorized. More than one court hearing about the neglect/abuse; the neglectful/abusive owner is supposed to be in attendance; the court tries to compel changes to improve the situation so seizure isn't necessary; and finally seizure as a last resort.
          Quite the opposite in my state and neighboring state. I've seen multiple cases in both states where dogs were seized. Dogs were housed in local shelters for months for a few cases where the dogs were not returned to owner and it was at least 9 months if not more before the dogs were no longer considered evidence and could be adopted out. Even when returned to owners, still at least a couple of months

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
            ...................
            Don't get me wrong I think that the county or the rescue should have made it clear much sooner than 18 months that they weren't footing the bill. But I think the vet did not practice very good business procedures in not getting it in writing who was paying for the board, treatment and hoof care.
            ...................
            I think they did make it clear, right from the get-go. It is the vet who is refusing to cooperate with the AHS. At the time she took the ponies, the AHS would have communicated to her, in writing, what they pay for and how long they pay for it.

            Two months after she got them, the AHS instructed her to adopt out the ponies. She refuses to do so.

            According to the AHS, they did pay their share for the amount of time their charter allows them to do so. The vet would have known from the start how long and how much was coming, per pony.

            For the past 16 months it was/is the vet's assigned responsibility to place the ponies elsewhere, according to AHS policy. The vet refuses to do that. Had the vet done what she was supposed to do, probably most or all of the ponies would now be in other good homes.

            From all of the information out there, it appears that the current situation is one created by the vet, and is not what anyone else wanted to happen.

            Comment


            • #66
              According to the press release issued by the Sheriff's Department on June 22, 2018, "The disposition of the horses will be determined pursuant to Minnesota statute 343.235."

              MN statute 343.235:

              "Subdivision 1.General rule. An animal taken into custody under section 343.12, 343.22, 343.29, or 343.31 may be humanely disposed of at the discretion of the jurisdiction having custody of the animal ten days after the animal is taken into custody, provided that the procedures in subdivision 3 are followed. ...

              Subd. 3.Notice; right to hearing. (a) The authority taking custody of an animal under section 343.12, 343.22, 343.29, or 343.31 shall give notice of this section by delivering or mailing it to a person claiming an interest in the animal or by posting a copy of it at the place where the animal is taken into custody or by delivering it to a person residing on the property, and telephoning, if possible.
              ​​​​​​
              ​[Details of notice requirements]

              (b) Upon request of a person claiming an interest in the animal, which request must be made within ten days of the date of seizure, a hearing must be held within five business days of the request, to determine the validity of the seizure and impoundment. ... A person claiming interest in the animal who is aggrieved by a decision of a hearing officer under this subdivision may seek a court order governing the seizure or impoundment within five days of notice of the order.


              [Regarding return of animals]

              (d) The person claiming an interest in the animal is liable for all actual costs of care, keeping, and disposal of the animal, except to the extent that a court or hearing officer finds that the seizure or impoundment was not substantially justified by law. The costs must be paid in full or a mutually satisfactory arrangement for payment must be made between the municipality and the person claiming an interest in the animal before return of the animal to the person."

              It appears that MN law allows the forfeiture of animals without a criminal conviction.

              Not that the statute provides much clarity, given the lack of info regarding this specific case, but just FYI.
              ​​​

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                From all of the information out there, it appears that the current situation is one created by the vet, and is not what anyone else wanted to happen.
                Hmmm.

                From the description of the article linked in the first post: "states that the owner admitted to neglect and surrendered legal possession of the minis to the animal humane society on the condition that they be taken to the specific veterinarian who is now billing the humane society."

                Perhaps someone did want this to happen after all.
                Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by Coanteen View Post

                  Hmmm.

                  From the description of the article linked in the first post: "states that the owner admitted to neglect and surrendered legal possession of the minis to the animal humane society on the condition that they be taken to the specific veterinarian who is now billing the humane society."

                  Perhaps someone did want this to happen after all.
                  I read that. I find it utterly incomprehensible.

                  I work for a government agency and sometimes i have to seize animals.

                  If I ever showed the remarkably poor judgement as to place animals in the care of someone dictated (or even recommended) by the subject of an investigation, I'm pretty sure my agency's response would be swift:

                  1. "You've compromised the evidence at best and quite possibly rendered it inadmissible. We're placing you under investigation for possible collusion."

                  And 2. "You're fired."
                  ​​
                  ​​​

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by Coanteen View Post

                    Hmmm.

                    From the description of the article linked in the first post: "states that the owner admitted to neglect and surrendered legal possession of the minis to the animal humane society on the condition that they be taken to the specific veterinarian who is now billing the humane society."

                    Perhaps someone did want this to happen after all.
                    I found it very odd and offputting that they let someone that was being investigated for neglect, dictate where the (seized) horses went. Odd indeed.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Good catch! Yikes.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by WildLittleWren View Post

                        I found it very odd and offputting that they let someone that was being investigated for neglect, dictate where the (seized) horses went. Odd indeed.
                        If it's part of an agreed plea/dismissal of a case it's not so unusual. Remember this sort of thing is NOT a defendant "dictating" a term and condition, it's part of the "back and forth" that goes on in any genuine negotiation.

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          In the prosecution phase of a case, when parties are attempting to reach a plea deal, negotiations are standard.

                          According to all accounts, including from the owner's attorney, the owner signed the document (whatever it is) several months before before charges were even filed.

                          In the initial stages of building a case, it's not usual for the investigator to negotiate with the subject of the case regarding placement of the property.

                          In an article published May 19, 2019, it was reported that the owner was required to pay the costs. I haven't seen copies of the court documents from the conviction so I don't know if the report is accurate.

                          "A Watonwan County jury found Michael Charles Johnson, 54, guilty of misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and neglect in April.

                          Authorities found dead ponies and ponies with severely overgrown hooves on Johnson's farm last summer, according to the court complaint.

                          Johnson was sentenced this week to one year of probation. A 90-day jail sentence will be waived if he completes probation.

                          Johnson also was ordered to pay restitution for care of his remaining horses. The amount is yet to be determined pending resolution of a threatened lawsuit over boarding fees against the county by the veterinarian who took custody of the ponies.".

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