Ohio Seized Horse Ownership: Federal Ruling Sought

Attorneys in Ohio are asking a U.S. District Court judge to declare an Arabian horse rescue organization the legal owner of horses removed from an Oak Harbor farm last month.

Animal welfare authorities from the Humane Society of Ottawa County discovered 37 animals allegedly residing in filth without food or water on Jan. 29. One horse was found dead on the property and five were euthanized at the scene. The remaining 31 horses were moved to the Sandusky County Fairgrounds stables, where another was later euthanized.

Farm operator Robin Vess was charged with 42 counts of second-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Vess later transferred ownership of the horses to the Arabian Rescue Midwest, a subsidiary of Arabian Rescue Mission, on grounds that they require breed-specific rehabilitative care, said her attorney Mark Davis.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing the Arabian rescue group filed an injunction and declaratory motion seeking federal court recognition of the transfer.

The motion precedes a Thursday hearing in Ottawa County Municipal court in which Christopher Marcinko, who prosecutes case for the Humane Society of Ottawa County, will argue that the horses are evidence in the Vess case and must remain under Humane Society control.

"We filed the motion because my client owns these horses, and we don't want to defy a court order" said attorney Leonard Yelsky, one of the lawyers representing the Arabian rescue group in the case.

Neither Marcinko nor Davis were available for comment.

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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