Enough Already. My BLOOD IS BOILING! Meet Champ… And let’s help Alaqua keep up the good work! Our May Drop in the Bucket Fund!

OY, I’m so angry about this.

Imagine…  On May 9th, Alaqua Animal Refuge has to go to court to defend their rehabilitation of this starved mini, Champ, so that his previous owner will not get him back.


Can you believe this?!   The courts are debating whether the previous owner showed intent to harm this mini horse.

C’mon, really?

Champ, a very young mini, on his first day at Alaqua Animal Refuge



So, I called Alaqua’s Director, Laurie Hood, and she was gracious enough to grant an interview.  Basically, the laws in this county of Florida needed to be addressed properly by all involved.  Alaqua did all the research and has rallied local officials and Animal Control to help her in this fight for Champ…  After a very long time of attempting to bring justice for this little horse, the trial is Monday.

Monday, May 9th.

I am so outraged by this obvious abuse, intent or not, that I want us to help up the good work – big time.  I want them to have the resources to get the word out and to garner as much media support (and pressure on the courts) as possible.

After May 9th, I want to support Alaqua in whatever the outcome since they have tirelessly worked to bring Champ back to life.

(And, to further show Alaqua’s selflessness, Alaqua is the rescue that saved the two surviving horses from that horrible trailer accident a few weeks ago linked here).

This is why I’ve chosen Alaqua to be our May ‘Drop in the Bucket Fund‘.





I have much to say on Champ.  But for today, I simply want to talk about the upcoming trial.

Below is the official word about this case.

Champ, a sweet-natured miniature horse, was rescued by Alaqua Animal Refuge on Aug. 20, 2010 in Freeport, Fla. He was found by Walton County Florida Animal Control officers in a privately owned, barren pasture, laying in dirt and waste, unable to raise himself, and 170 pounds underweight. Photographic documentation shows that Champ had no access to food or water and blood tests reveal that his near-death physical state was the direct result of malnutrition.

In the months that Champ has lived at Alaqua Animal Refuge, he has gained weight and strength and is spirited and playful. In fact, on Sept. 7, 2010 he was able to run across his shady lush pasture at the animal sanctuary for the first time. He is now healthy and his personality has bloomed.

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office initially sought to charge the owners with felony animal cruelty. However, Walton County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Wells rejected the warrant, which was signed by the state attorney’s office.

A second warrant was submitted by the sheriff’s office, with the offense lowered to a misdemeanor, but Walton County Judge David Green also rejected it on Sept. 8, 2010 based on a lack of sufficient evidence.

Click to play the video of his first day at Alaqua... And more info on the case.


A groundswell of support grew on the Internet, when Laurie Hood, Alaqua Animal Refuge president and founder, posted the news regarding the second rejection. The post ignited responses from bloggers and attracted attention from animal-welfare activists internationally, as the horse could now legally be returned to its owners.

In the wake of the online interest, the case was reopened and a second investigation was launched.

On Sept. 30, 2010 the Office for the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida filed a felony charge and Champ’s owner was arrested. However, in February, the owner entered a plea of not guilty, and on March 1, he filed a motion to dismiss the case. The ruling on the dismissal motion was denied and the case is expected to go to trial in early May.

(blood boiling at this point...)



Throughout the month, I will tell you all about Champ as well as bring you news on Utah and GQ, the horses saved from that horrendous trailer accident.   I have much to share…


Thank goodness for Laurie Hood, Director of Alaqua, Champ is safe.



ALAQUA must prevail.  This young colt (they are not allowed to geld him as he is not the property of Alaqua – yet…)  cannot go back to his neglectful previous owner.  Please, please donate if possible.  Any amount adds up.  And, if you cannot donate, please think strong, positive thoughts and spread this around!  The Facebook button is on the upper left corner of this blog (click here to go to the website of Champ’s blog) – if you get this via email, here is the permalink (http://www.horseandman.com/?p=14537) to cut and paste anywhere.  The more people who know, the more people can help.  Thank you in advance!

If you received this post via email, click here to donate. 

Click here to watch the donation thermometer rise!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around! HERE IS THE PERMALINK that you can cut and past into anything.(http://www.horseandman.com/?p=14537)



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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

10 comments have been posted...

  1. Cheryl

    This hit particularly hard as Champ could be my PJ’s twin. PJ was a little “light” when we got him, simply because his wonderful owner – and she really is wonderful – had had to downsize over and over after the sudden death of her husband, who literally died while feeding the horses. PJ, despite being a stallion, was the bottom of the food chain. It happens. We ended up with him and the “top of the food chain gelding” who desperately needed a diet. The answer was not terribly complicated: we put them in a corral with a shelter, which was split in half, and a door on the pinto’s side. It allowed the less aggressive horse to eat in piece, and smaller portions fed to the pudgy one. This did not happen with Champ, obviously. Like any group of species, there is a pecking order, and it must be paid attention to. While I do agree with Farmayce that intentional bullying for bias of any involved parties is unacceptable, I also understand the frustration. I have taken in rehabs over the years, neglected, battered (one had a fractured SKULL – how much battering would THAT take? He was also about 400 pounds underweight, two fractures in his tail, exactly the distance of a stall door, and a gaping wound on the inside of his hock I could fit my entire hand in), starved horses, dangerously abused horses. IN EVERY SINGLE CASE – EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM! – I was advised that taking the owners to court would result in a losing battle and the horse would be returned to them if the court saw the case. Moreover, I would be responsible for all court costs. I cannot describe the frustration – but those who have been involved with this understand it. One absolutely foul example was a race horse with broken coffin and navicular bones and a shattered pasturn was brought to me by a “VET” from the track, who had done a mercury/almond blister at the coronary band. The horse screamed for hours, literally until he had no voice – and the vet refused any pain med, then finally refused to return my calls. I had to go through the track secretary to find the owner. By then, the hoof had mostly separated from the bottom of the leg and had to be duct taped back on. There was no hope of saving it – it was just the only way to cushion the ankle joint. When the “vet” still refused to answer any calls – his assistant merely informed me that if I put the horse down, or in any other way intruded on his “treatment” legal action would follow. I ended up taking legal action myself, called the owner to inform him the horse would be put down, then called the police and a real vet. The owner showed up about 15 minutes before the police, who showed up just before the vet. The vet took x-rays, the owner sobbed seeing the horse in such agony, and his foot duct taped to the ankle. According to him it was all about the insurance. Once the vet clipped off the tape, the hoof dropped to the floor and the stench made the owner and one of the cops throw up. We documented everything – even the sound of two large, grown men puking – and put the horse down. And still the courts refused to do anything about the track vet. I will say the owner did get fined for attempted insurance fraud – he gladly paid, and then started a “scholarship” for injured track horses to come to the barn and lay up, or be humanely put down. It took him, the cops, myself and several involved people to attack the Jockey Club and the race track, but we finally – nearly a year – had the “vet’s” license revoked and serious fines, plus banishment from any track in IL. But it wasn’t the courts or the legal system. It was Jockey Club. So I think respect for the court system CAN be ok, but it isn’t, people need to stand up and educate that system.

  2. Linda Horn

    Bonnie, I just searched for an update and read your article. Thanks for staying on to of this! If the abusers win, I want to know how much they’ll take for him. This great little guy must be removed from their “tender loving care” before they abuse him again. BS may walk, but money almost always talks!

  3. Linda Horn

    I received the cross-post from the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition as well. Three cheers for all those who are helping this case “go viral”!

    Clever defense lawyers use “intent”, because they know it’s extremely hard for the prosecution to prove and for judges to deal with. How do you prove what’s in another person’s mind? They also plead “ignorance”. Then there’s “loss of reputation”, or how a felony conviction will impact the abuser’s ability to find a job and support a family. That’s often how a felony “magically” becomes a misdemeanor!

    If the judge rules in favor of the abuser, it will not only be a terrible outcome for Champ, but also set a dangerous precedent for suing others, and not only those in Florida. Heaven help abused animals if “intent” becomes a successful technique across the country! BTW, a loss shouldn’t preclude Alaqua from filing civil charges for reimbursement of rehab expenses, which, hopefully, they’re already considering.

    Farmacye, you say the owner tried, but he either didn’t try very hard enough or wasn’t experienced with rehab. Rehab at this level (LESS than Henneke 1!) is VERY specific in the steps you take, and can be extremely expensive. BTW, I know this because I volunteered at a Rescue, and have taken part in the entire process, including the trials.

    Our Livestock Board has chosen to give owners of neglected (abused in my book!) horses an option to “rehab in place”. They give guidance and monitor progress over a specific time period. If the horse isn’t making progress, the owner has the option of surrendering it to a rescue under threat of seizure. If the owner refuses, the horse is seized and charges are filed.

    From my involvement in seizures, if the owner gave Champ up (even at this late date), the criminal charges could be dropped. Even though the charge has been pled down to a misdemeanor (typical!), it would be the smart thing to do. If that doesn’t work, Alaqua should threaten to file the civil suit for damages. That’s frequently the final “carrot” that prompts the surrender. If he still refuses, file on this abuser!

  4. Seabiscute

    Farmayce, it is hard to believe the owner “tried” when the colt under Alaqua’s care has improved so much. How could the owner have been “trying” when the horse was near the point of death, alone, unable to rise, and without food or water? I don’t see any evidence of “trying” there. A reasonable person would, if their efforts were not successful, seek assistance.

    It’s the results that should count, anyway — don’t know Florida law, but seems to me that if your actions result in harm, you should not benefit from them. The owner’s neglect brought Champ to death’s door, whether or not that was his or her intention. The owner is surely not entitled to get him back after someone else has fixed the problems stemming from his/her abuse! Not in a just world, at least.

  5. Pingback: Champ a Mini who was starved at risk of going back to abuser | Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog

  6. Animalsee

    @Farmayce…These pictures do not lie but you are obviously seeing them with cloudy eyes…I fully believe that the courts must be fair. But the thought of giving the horse back to someone who so obviously mistreated this animal is far from fair. I do not care that this owner “tried”. Being a responsible adult with the privilege of owning animals means that you must have the means to take care of them. If not, give them up, but don’t make them suffer and die because of your pride. Your court system sounds more than unfair. And if something is unfair then it is our right to speak up. Our world is not always just…I’m sure if you could ask Champ and he would tell you…but I believe we need to stand up for those who cannot for themselves. So I stand up for Champ and all of the other animals that the members of ALAQUA have rescued. Thank you for all you do…

  7. Farmayce

    I understand the outrage regarding Champ’s treatment when it is based simply upon the pictures and this version of the story. However, the author of this story was given a slanted view of the case. It is only fair that the truth, and the WHOLE truth, be made known. The owner did in fact try to help this miniature horse. Many times. I do not know how exactly he tried to rehabilitate this horse, but I do know that he tried. Unfortunately, the Alaqua Animal Refuge has allowed their frustration towards the system to grow into something that is destructive. They have encouraged fans of their facebook page to contact local judges regarding the case. PETA members have also contacted them. This demonstrates the Refuge’s intent to bias the court system, believing that public attention will sway the court’s opinion. This, however, is not the main issue; the owners of Champ, as well as the local judges, have received threats from people regarding the upcoming trial. This is UNACCEPTABLE. We must all remember that our court system is designed to be FAIR and UNBIASED. Also, threatening others simply makes a person seem unstable and does not promote peace or justice. Respect for the court system is key. Please, remember this.

  8. Donna Banks

    The problem as I see it is that the question be was the horse neglected – not whether it was intention or not. I think they should post more pictures of when it was found and the conditions surround him. I’ve watched from day one and seen his improvement. I also see what spunk he has now. Why would anyone want to return him to a person who ALLOWED this precious little baby to such a horrific condition.

  9. rose

    Oh. My. God. I cannot believe this. No animal anywhere should be in that condition. How can it possibly NOT be neglect????

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