MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An East Bethel, Minn. horse breeder has been cleared of 35 counts of animal cruelty because searches of his property were conducted without a warrant.
On Dec. 3, Anoka County Judge Sean Gibbs dismissed the charges against Lowell Friday, who was under investigation for allegations that several horses at NV Arabian Horse Ranch were not receiving proper care.
A number of horses were removed from the ranch in September 2011, and seven more horses were taken away a few months later. Of Friday’s 60 horses, only 26 were left after the seizures.
An agent with the Animal Humane Society said at the time of the horses’ removal that there had been “quite a bit of neglect on this farm for some years.”
During an investigation of the ranch conditions, authorities observed excessive accumulation of feces and manure, pens without adequate fencing, sharp objects and other health hazards to the horses. Water in the pens appeared to be full of algae or contaminated.
Veterinarians say they were 200 to 300 pounds underweight, and some had parasites.
One of the horses given a score of one was said to have a severe infestation of lice, chipped and cracked front hooves and was highly malnourished.
Last week, Gibbs dismissed the counts of mistreatment of animals Friday faced, citing a lack of evidence. The judge tossed out all evidence related to the searches of Friday’s property, because they were conducted without a warrant.
Friday previously pleaded guilty to one count of overworking or mistreating animals in 2009.
“There’s a lot of eyes on this farm right now, and I would suspect if there are horses with poor body conditions, scars or other issues going on, we’ll hear about it,” said the Animal Humane Society’s Keith Streff last January.