Measure of Justice Served for Brutal Neglect of Four Horses
A Winona, Mississippi man has been sentenced for the extreme deprivation he forced his four horses to endure for months. Astonishingly, the “guardian” of the neglected horses claimed the seizure of the animals was unjust, but we ensured that justice and logic prevailed.
The poor condition of the horses at the time of the seizure indicated the severity and duration of the neglect they experienced at the hands of Mr. O.G. Johnson, their “caretaker.” One of the horses chronically rubbed her head against her leg as she struggled to free herself from the agonizing pain caused by the halter that bore into her face as she grew bigger. Maggots ate at her flesh and flies laid their eggs in the festering halter wounds.
Our Justice for Animals Campaign Director, Doll Stanley and Pearson, the Winona Animal Control & Protection Officer, responded to texts from a member of Winona Animal Advocacy Group reporting the plight of the suffering horses. The animals were kept on the property beside the member’s private haven for rescued dogs which is located within the city limits in a sparsely developed area bordering the county.
Upon witnessing the results of our joint investigation, Municipal Court Judge Allen Devo Lancaster ordered the seizure of the four horses under Johnson’s “care.” Hope Animal Sanctuary is at full capacity for taking in new horses, but an amazing veterinarian and her rescue team graciously stepped up to help.
On Sunday, June 22nd, 2019, we successfully seized the horses. The vet transported the three critical horses to her facility, and the fourth horse was taken to be cared for by members of WAAG. Three police officers aided Pearson to secure the property and ensured the rescue was executed safely.
Since Johnson failed to seek a custody hearing for the horses, they have been forfeited and will be placed with caring guardians once they are fully recovered.
On August 1st, Johnson pled guilty to all four counts of animal cruelty. Under current law, he could have been fined $1,000 per count for a total of $4,000. He could have also been sentenced to six months incarceration for each count for a total of a two years.
Johnson’s defense attorneys and the prosecutor proposed a plea deal which included; a $2,000 fine and 15 days house arrest (due to confirmed health issues) for each count for a total of 60 days. Under this deal, the veterinarian who cared for three of the suffering horses would also be awarded $4,760 in restitution.
Judge Lancaster accepted the plea deal with a slight modification to the amount of the house arrest term. Johnson was sentenced to the full six months of house arrest for each count, however, he will only serve 60 days under house arrest. Only if he violates his house arrest terms will he then serve the two full years of house arrest.
While we are aware that punishments in Mississippi are nowhere near comparable to what they are in most of the rest of the country, we are still pleased that a judge who once only gave a $200 fine for the intentional starving of animals is now awarding full vet fees and fines, plus making incarceration an option. We had delivered thousands of signatures to this judge previously in response to this poor previous sentence, and we are confident our presence has influenced the judge’s sentencing of Johnson.
Please support our Justice for Animals Campaign so we can continue to create a better world for animals in the Deep South.