Georgia Horse Owner Accused of Cruelty Enters Plea

A Georgia man accused of neglecting 40 horses on his Habersham County farm has pleaded no contest to the animal cruelty counts against him.

County animal control authorities and personnel from the Lil One's Ridin' Ranch horse rescue removed the animals in September after county officials assumed an earlier Georgia Department of Agriculture investigation into a neighbor's complaint about the horses' condition.

The animals' owner, James Tillman Goss, was later charged with 40 counts of animal cruelty and 40 counts of violating Georgia's Humane Care for Equines Act.

Goss entered the no contest plea on April 18 in Habersham County State Court. The court ordered that the removed animals be returned to Goss and ordered him to serve 12 months non-reporting probation. Georgia Department of Agriculture personnel will inspect the animals every 30 days during the probation period. Goss was also ordered to pay $275 in fines.

Goss said he was happy to get his horses back, but believes the case was mishandled from the beginning.

"They came in on Friday and came back Monday to take my horses, and I was basically handcuffed from asking any questions," Goss said. "I don't understand where my horses have been for seven months or what condition they will be in when I get them back."

Sue Sellers Crane, chief information officer of the equine welfare organization Stamp Out Starvation of Horses, believes the case's outcome demonstrates a lack of concern over equine welfare.

"A fine, 12 months of non-reporting probation, and return of all his animals sends a clear message to all potential abusers in Habersham County, the State of Georgia, and the entire U.S. that animal cruelty is tolerated behavior in our community," Crane said.

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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