Decision to Euthanize Horse Could Bring End to Controversial Case

A controversial Massachusetts horse cruelty case might be resolved in court April 8 if the horse's owner agrees to euthanize the mare in question.

According to Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (MSPCA) Deputy Chief Law Enforcement Officer Richard LeBlond, felony animal cruelty charges against horse owner Elliot Saffran, will be dropped in a pre-trial hearing in Uxbridge District Court if Saffran agrees to euthanize Quincy, a 29-year old mare suffering from a myriad of ailments. Veterinarians from the unnamed equine clinic currently treating the horse will testify whether euthanasia is appropriate in the case, LeBlond said.

Saffran was charged with animal cruelty last January after MSPCA investigators found the horse suffering from a knee injury and unable to stand due to arthritis.

The case garnered widespread attention when animal welfare advocates accused MSPCA of prolonging the horse's suffering when the group declined to exercise its legal right under Massachusetts law to euthanize the geriatric horse.

However, LeBlond said the MSPCA chose not to exercise that option because veterinarians who had previously treated Quincy disagreed on her condition.

"We believe the best thing is to put her down," he said. "But we’ve had conflicting vet reports (suggesting that) under medication she's alert, eating, and drinking."

Also, he said, MSPCA would need a court order or be awarded legal custody of the animal in order to euthanize her. The legal process could invite a protracted series of lengthy appeals by Quincy's owner, he said.

"That wouldn't have been in the best interest of the horse," LeBlond said.

Attorney Diane Sullivan, professor of law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, Mass., and architect of the school's animal welfare law curriculum, said Massachusetts' animal cruelty laws do not specifically recognize failure to euthanize sick or injured animals as cruelty.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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