The Judge look at the defendant and asked, “What do you want me to do about these animals?” The old man just shrugged his shoulders.
“Okay, then I’m awarding all the horses to Habitat for Horses and all the other animals to Galveston County and the other shelters.”
With that decree, we increased our population by four. It was the second animal cruelty case of the day, ending two hours of discussion in the courtroom. There is nothing to celebrate, no cheers, for it is too much of a reflection on the failure of some people to care for the lives for which they have taken responsibility. Neglect, starvation, horses tied to trees, dogs without shelter and chained on short ropes, raw sewage coming from under the house, no food, no hay – it’s repeated time and again.
I gave up a long time ago trying to understand the reasoning of the defendants. When confronted with the evidence, there is no defense. At times we’ll come across someone who hires an attorney for a few thousand dollars, money that should have been spent on the horses. A good attorney will huff and puff, usually showing that he/she knows absolutely nothing about animals, and the decision of the court will remain the same.
A picture is worth a zillion words, which is why our investigators make a “case book” with all the
evidence documented, including a lot of 8X10 photographs, the blood analysis, fecal exam results, the vet report, the police reports and affidavits. The pictures tell the story; the rest just adds some detail.
All these horses were severely anemic, most rated below 2 on the body score, all were in environments that were not fit for animals or humans. All the owners were given warnings and offers of help, which they ignored. The exceptions are cases, like the one last week, where the life of the horse was in immediate danger. At that point, I’m not willing to even discuss the problems. If they can’t see that their animal is starving to death right in front of them, there is nothing further to talk about.
The courtroom emptied, the cops went back to work, the Assistant DA needed to get back to the office, the Animal Control Officer had other calls to make. We’ll be back together again, sooner than I want to be, for there is no end to it.
Driving back to the ranch I pulled off to the side of the road next to a pasture with five horses grazing on the tall grass, growing because of all the rains we’ve received. I know these horses, know the owner, know how much love he gives them. I think about so many of our foster and adoptive homes, families that would rather starve than deny their horses the proper care. They don’t take in more than they can financially handle, and the horses thrive on the love they receive.
I wish I could tell those folks how wonderful they are, wish I could hug each one, give them some kind of award, sing their praises. I won’t, mainly because they think I’m kind of weird already, but my thankfulness for their devotion really doesn’t need to be voiced. They already know. They know because the horses tell them, with each nicker, with each soft nose rubbed against their hands.
They inspire me, they give me hope, they show me that the world really isn’t as bad as it seems, that there is far more goodness in the world than there are defendants that shrug their shoulders in the courtroom.
And so ends another day.