Horse case unraveled on veterinarian’s testimony
Chavez gets off with barely a slap on the wrist. Many of us remember that terrible video of those horses pawing the earth in such pain and misery. Such a travesty to conclude that he was not responsible. If you wish to view the video, you can do so by clicking the Continue Reading link at the end of this post – it will be at the end of the article. ~ HfH
From: Albuquerque Journal
By: Colleen Heild
The secretly recorded video of four dying horses on a Los Lunas feedlot horrified people around the world in 2012, but it wasn’t enough proof to convict the owner of the property of animal cruelty charges.
Prosecutors say the opinion of a paid expert veterinarian prompted them to drop animal cruelty charges and settle for a plea deal on four technical misdemeanor charges – not having the proper paperwork – against Dennis V. Chavez, proprietor of the Southwest Livestock Auction.
Chavez pleaded guilty Nov. 25 to not having a bill of sale on the four emaciated horses whose final hours were filmed by a national animal rights group – a videotape that led to the criminal investigation and charges against Chavez.
Chavez, who according to state Livestock Board records has shipped more than 18,000 horses from Los Lunas to the U.S.-Mexico border since July 2012, was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation and ordered to donate a minimum of $5,000 to one of three horse rescue organizations in New Mexico.
Valencia County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said a private veterinarian hired by the Attorney General’s Office to help in the prosecution couldn’t say that “abuse or extreme animal abuse had taken place, so we couldn’t put him on (the witness stand) to prove those counts.”
The AG’s Office, which assisted in the prosecution, said Tuesday that the veterinarian who reviewed the evidence “concluded water and sustenance was present for the subject horses” and determined they were in poor condition before they were placed at the Chavez property.
“There was insufficient evidence to prove even misdemeanor animal cruelty,” said AG spokesman Phil Sisneros in an e-mail to the Journal . “We could not establish a lengthy time frame showing his custody and control of the sick horses.”
And the expert concluded there was “no undue delay in humane euthanization after notice to Chavez’s employees.”
Chavez’s attorney Gary Mitchell said last week the horses had been dropped off at Chavez’s property without his knowledge.
Chavez is a private dealer of horses but also ships horses to slaughter in Mexico.
Sisneros, in his e-mail, said the horses had been on the Chavez property for at least three days. An equine association that came to Chavez’s defense said last year they were in a “hospital pen.”
The outcome of the high-profile case was surprising to Bobby Pierce, who retired last month as deputy director of the state Livestock Board, which investigated the case.
“It sure seemed like there was negligence there,” Pierce said Tuesday.