No, this isn’t Mr. Ed Esquire.
In a groundbreaking lawsuit, an 8-year-old horse named Justice is the party suing his owner “to recover the costs of his ongoing medical care and his pain and suffering,” according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The ALDF, a legal advocacy organization for animals, is representing Justice in this lawsuit filed Tuesday. The organization notes that if this lawsuit is successful it “would be the first to establish that animals have a legal right to sue their abusers in court.”
Justice endured months of abuse before getting to this point. The neglected horse was left to the elements under his owner’s care. Justice was found emaciated, crawling with lice and suffering from rain rot and frostbite when he was found by his rescuers.
While the horse owner pled guilty to criminal animal neglect in 2017, she only agreed to pay restitutions for the horse’s medical care up until July 6, 2017. Unfortunately, Justice’s abuse was so severe, he is suffering from physical and psychological issues that will require care for his entire life.
ALDF is seeking funds to cover Justice’s care since the 2017 date and for the future. All funds awarded to Justice in this lawsuit will be put in a trust set up for his care and well-being.
“Horses, like Justice, are intelligent animals with the capacity for rich emotional lives,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “Oregon law already recognizes Justice’s right to be free from cruelty – this lawsuit simply expands the remedies available when abusers violate animals’ legal rights.”
Thankfully, successful lawsuit or not, Justice has kind people looking after him now. Sound Equine Options, an Oregon nonprofit horse rescue and rehabilitation organization, is currently looking after Justice and have helped to give the animal his spirit back. Justice looks like a different horse from the one rescuers first found.
Unfortunately, Justice’s large medical expenses have made it hard for the animal to find a forever home outside the organization. ALDF hopes to find a way to help cover his substantial care costs to give him a second chance at a happy home.