MEDIA RELEASE: No Justice for Horse Dragged & Mule Neglected by Leake County Man
LEAKE COUNTY, Miss. (Jan. 3, 2023) – In Defense of Animals, the international animal advocacy organization that operates the Justice for Animals Campaign and Hope Animal Sanctuary in Carroll County, Miss. is outraged at the sentence handed to a man caught abusing a Leake County horse and mule. Johnny Ray Goolsey was previously convicted of neglect for tethering the mule without food or water, and fined just $100. Goolsey must now pay just $295.75 and serve 10 days of community service.
Goolsey was arrested after a video of him kicking and dragging a downed horse with a tractor was presented to the Leake County Sheriff. The horse was lodged beneath the tongue of a wagon and had become immobile.
“I welcome the conviction for neglect and violent animal abuse but the pitiful sentence falls short,” said Doll Stanley, Justice for Animals Senior Campaigner for In Defense of Animals. “Animal abusers cost Mississippi taxpayers and erode our society. Dragging a horse is a violent act that deserves a fitting sentence from lawmakers. Equines hold a special place in our hearts and deserve stronger laws to protect them that will make people think twice before committing criminal animal abuse.”
On May 13, 2021, WLBT reported that Goolsey was arrested after video evidence of equine abuse was provided to Leake County Sheriff Randy Atkinson. Reportedly, Sheriff Atkinson had driven by the property and had not seen anything that caught his attention. WLBT declined to show the “disturbing” video.
In one video, the horse bucks and violently resists being pulled along by a tractor. In a second video, the horse is immobile and dragged along the dirt over the tongue of a wagon, while a man kicks and pushes the horse. In both videos, a mule is tied to a wagon without food, water, or shelter.
Goolsey was arrested, and the abused horse and neglected mule were taken for veterinary care.
Goolsey was charged with a misdemeanor for tethering a mule to the wagon without access to food or water. He was found guilty but was only fined $100. While the Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law was recently strengthened, most other animals remain legally unprotected. Many Mississippi animal advocacies are determined to amend the state’s weak animal statutes.
“It’s absurd that Goolsey received such a low fine for what he did to his horse and mule. Failing to provide food and water to any animal carries a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months incarceration. Maliciously injuring a horse carries a minimum fine of $1,500. Mississippians should be outraged at this failure of justice,” said Stanley.
Goolsey was set to face a grand jury on a felony charge for abusing the horse. Maliciously injuring “livestock” carries a fine of $1,500 to $10,000 and incarceration from 12 months to five years.
Leake County Justice Court staff have not released full details of the sentencing. It is possible that the judge dropped felony charges, and they were never heard by a grand jury.
“We are disappointed at the slap on the wrist handed to the offender of this seriously disturbing crime. The ‘livestock’ protective statute is designed to protect the ‘owner’ of an animal, not the animal, and that’s just not right,” said Stanley.
### NOTES ###
Contact: Doll Stanley, [email protected], (662) 809-4483
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and its hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/Justice4Animals
### ENDS ###