The Carthage Humane Society will be able to sell horses it has been keeping at tremendous expense, estimated at $180,000, thanks to a ruling issued today by the Missouri Supreme Court.
The Humane Society and another Humane Society near Union had been forced to continue caring for 120 horses after their former owner, William A. Zobel, who had left the animals malnourished at his ranch near Republic, went to court to prevent their sale.
Pictures of the horses in the condition in which they were impounded by the Greene County Sheriff's Department were included in today's court decision. The horses were taken in January. Two months later, the circuit court permitted them to dispose of the horses humanely, the decision said. "Zobel never attempted to prevent the disposition of the horses by posting a bond or security for the care of some or all of the horses. Instead, he filed a petition for a writ of mandamus against the court and the humane societies, arguing the court had no authority to allow a disposition of the horses."
Greene County Circuit Court Judge Don Burrell had ordered Zobel to post a bond of at least $105,000 to cover the cost of feeding and caring for the horses. Additionally, Burrell ruled that if Zobel posted the bond and the horses were returned to him, they would still be under the jurisdiction of a veterinarian appointed by the state to look after their care.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court said, "The need for basis food, water, and shelter are concepts that are almost universally contemplated and understood by persons of ordinary intelligence."
At that point, the Southern District Court of Appeals issued a stop order and the case was transferred to the Supreme Court.
The court's action today dissolves the stop order, saying that the preservation of evidence doctrine does not apply. The court also rejected Zobel's claim that he did not receive equal protection of the law saying that was not relevant and also did not apply to the case.
Zobel is still facing numerous criminal charges related to the mistreatment of the horses.