Fined, but he keeps horses

Judge has allowed a Barriere resident to keep three horses after being convicted of causing an animal to be in distress

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A provincial court judge has allowed a Barriere resident to keep three horses after being convicted of causing an animal to be in distress.

Jody Huffman pleaded guilty to the charge under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. A veterinarian ordered two of his sick Peruvian Paso horses to be immediately shot because their condition was so dire and they couldn’t be handled.

Judge Stella Frame agreed a-week-ago Tuesday with a submission by Crown prosecutor Alex Janse for a $1,500 fine and ban on owning animals outside the three replacement horses Huffman now has in his possession.

Quoting from a veterinarian’s report, Janse said the two mares’ hooves were without proper care, infected and the horses were tangled with a weed “to such a degree I have never seen before.”

There was also suggestion the animals were underfed.

Defence lawyer John Hogg argued his client was in the midst of deep withdrawals from a decade-long addiction to prescribed opiate painkillers stemming from an accident in 2003.

The SPCA began investigation late in 2013 and obtained a search warrant to enter Huffman’s property and inspect the animals.

The attending veterinarian ordered Huffman to shoot the two animals. They could not be given lethal injection because they were never saddle-broken and could not be handled.

Both suffered from infections and problems from inadequate hoof care that causes extreme pain.

The veterinarian acting for the SPCA gave the lone stallion treatment and Huffman cut the weed, burdock, from its main and tail. It was put down the next year, however, due to its advanced age.

Frame did question whether Huffman should be allowed to keep the horses.

“The amount of burdock is so thick it looks like they have a hive of bees on them,” she said.

But, the sentencing judge said she would agree with Huffman keeping the three new horses — but no other animals for the next five years — based on a care plan.

It will allow inspection at any time by SPCA staff and Huffman must have veterinary and farrier records available.

Hogg said the three horses were dropped on Huffman in 2000 by a friend. The trainer who specializes in the breeds kept them, but never worked with them.

Hogg entered extensive medical-file information showing Huffman’s battle with opiate addiction.

When the SPCA swooped in, Huffman was in the midst of kicking the habit and was in deep withdrawal, suffering the worst symptoms.

“He was feeding them, but not looking after them . . .” Hogg said.

“He was a mess.”