DES MOINES (CN) – The Iowa Court of Appeals ordered Paul Underwood to reimburse Benton County for the costs of caring for three Belgian draft horses that he severely neglected.
His son called the sheriff’s department to report that Underwood left the three male horses largely unattended on property in Garrison, away from his home. A sheriff’s deputy, a veterinarian and the president of the Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League visited the property to check on the horses.
What they found was disturbing:
“The group discovered three horses that were severely dehydrated and underweight,” Judge Huitink wrote. “One of the horses was in obvious distress. None of the horses had access to drinking water. The horses’ hooves were neglected, and two of the horses’ noses were injured from halters that had become imbedded in their skin. The third horse’s penis was extracted and apparently damaged by frostbite. One horse’s leg was swollen and lame.”
The horses were brought to an equine clinic, where another vet determined that at least two of the horses had been neglected “for some time.” The clinic speculated that one horse would need to have its penis amputated.
After the case went to trial, the district court ordered the horses be sold or adopted, and fined Underwood $4,132 for the care and maintenance of the horses, attorney fees and investigate costs.
Underwood appealed, but not on the neglect finding. He argued that Benton County failed to follow proper procedures, including notifying him before removing the horses. He claimed that “nothing was ‘on fire,’ no animal was ‘bleeding’ in any sense, and there was no other reason that Benton County could not have paused, if only for a moment,” to allow Underwood to address the problems.
The court found his arguments on appeal unconvincing and upheld the full fine.