Man Accused of Hanging Horse to Plead Not Guilty

A man accused of starving and then hanging a 27-year-old Appaloosa plans to plead not guilty at his next court appearance Jan. 25, at which time a trial date will also be set.

David Whiffin of Vancouver Island faces charges of killing cattle, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, and failing to provide the necessities of life. Clayton Cunningham, also of Vancouver Island, faces the same charges.

The horse, named Jalupe, died Sept. 15, 2009, when Whiffin allegedly tied a rope around the animal's neck, looped it over the bucket of an excavator and raised the bucket, strangling him.

According to Whiffin's lawyer, Donald McKay, Jalupe suffered from bad teeth that prevented him from eating properly. "He was put on a special diet of water soaked beets, and this was having a positive effect but it was not happening quickly," said McKay.

When the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (B.C. SPCA) responded to a complaint about Jalupe's emaciated condition, they issued an order that Whiffin had to seek veterinary care for the horse, or have him euthanized.

According to McKay, Whiffin had a veterinarian scheduled to come euthanize Jalupe, but on the day that was to happen, Cunningham hid the horse on another property. By the time Jalupe returned to Whiffin's property three days later, he had only a few hours left to comply with the SPCA order, McKay said.

According to McKay, Whiffin called the local police to inquire about shooting the horse and was told it was against the law to discharge a firearm in his municipality. McKay said that under the circumstances, Whiffin devised the most humane method he could think of to euthanize the horse within the time limit.

The B.C. SPCA's manager of cruelty investigations, Marcie Moriarity, said she is unable to go into specifics about the timeframe within which Whiffin was ordered to act, because the case is before the courts, but noted, "What I can say is that we provide the owner with a reasonable opportunity to act, and anybody who thinks it is easier to hang a horse than obtain humane euthanasia, well good luck in court."

If found guilty, Whiffin and Cunningham both face a fine of $10,000, up to five years in jail, and a prohibition from owning animals.

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Liz Brown

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