Chicago Carriage Horses' Day in Court Delayed by Budget Crunch

The carriage horse seizure case involving J.C. Cutters Ltd. has been continued once more. This time it was due to a City of Chicago budget-related mandatory work furlough day for all non-essential city employees on Aug. 17.

"The new trial date is Sept. 23; the officers with Animal Control were on mandatory furlough yesterday," said John Robeznieks, defense attorney for J.C. Cutters Ltd. co-owner and manager Michele Goudie, horse owner Melissa Woicek, and carriage driver Frances DuPont.

Chicago Animal Care and Control seized the horses Feb. 6 on allegations of improper care. Goudie and Woicek have asserted the horses were not mistreated, and that their owners' rights were violated due to unlawful seizure.

"This has dragged on long enough," said Goudie. "I'd like my day in court and to move on with my life."

Following the horses' transfer to the Hooved Animal Humane Society (HAHS) in April, a temporary restraining order was issued, preventing HAHS from adopting out any of the horses.

Jody L. Bielke, attorney for HAHS, confirmed that the restraining order has been transferred from McHenry County, where HAHS is located, to Cook County, home to Chicago and the pending court case.

"We have prepared and are waiting to file a petition for our board expenses because Ms. Goudie and Ms. Woicek are to be paying board expenses to HAHS during the pendency of all actions," said Beilke.

One of the six horses had already been placed prior to the restraining order.

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Lisa Kemp

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