Updated September 15, 2011
Animal Humane Society recently removed 10 horses from the NV Arabian Horse Ranch in East Bethel, Minn. after several complaints regarding the animal husbandry practices of Lowell Friday, the owner of the ranch.
With the Anoka County Sheriff’s Department and Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Johnson of Blue Sky Animal Hospital in Wyoming, Minn., Animal Humane Society conducted an investigation of the ranch on Monday, August 29, 2011. The investigation included examination of the 64 known horses on the property in accordance with the Henneke System of Body Condition Scoring, a system used to evaluate a horse's body condition regardless of breed, body type, sex or age.
The Minnesota standard for acceptable body condition is a body condition score of three. Horses that score below that standard are subject to seizure.
The collaborative team that conducted the investigation did so with the permission and assistance of the owner, Lowell Friday. During the investigation two horses were given a body condition score of two on the Henneke scale by Dr. Johnson; eight other horses were given a body condition score of three by Dr. Johnson.
After discussions with investigators, Friday recognized that the two horses with a body condition score of two were in poor condition and he voluntarily surrendered them to Animal Humane Society. He would not allow removal of any other horses that day. On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, Animal Humane Society obtained a warrant and returned with authorities from the Anoka County Sheriff's Office to remove the eight horses given a body condition score of three. Friday voluntarily surrendered one of the eight horses, while the remaining seven were seized under the warrant.
Upon seizure, Animal Humane Society took ownership of the horses. It secured and funded their safe transport to the University of Minnesota Large Animal Hospital and subsequent examination, boarding and rehabilitative care at the hospital. The findings of the examinations on the first two horses were utilized to obtain the warrant that allowed Animal Humane Society humane agents to remove the eight additional horses with similar low body condition scores.
After examination and preliminary rehabilitation, each of the 10 horses was released to Animal Humane Society's partner Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue. The horses continue to receive rehabilitative care in foster homes provided by the rescue.
Criminal charges filed by Animal Humane Society
On September 14, 2011, Animal Humane Society presented its case file on Lowell Friday and the NV Arabian Horse Ranch to the Anoka County Sheriff's Department with the understanding that they will include their reports and submit it to the County Attorney’s office for criminal review.
Animal Humane Society is also working with the City of East Bethel regarding the future status of Friday’s permit.
Recent history of the case
NV Arabian Horse Ranch has a long history of providing at or below minimum standards of care governed by Minnesota state law. For more than 10 years, Animal Humane Society has taken action when provided by law to protect the horses on the ranch.
In 2009, Friday was convicted of animal cruelty and subsequently placed on probation until mid-2010. Since then he has been operating with an interim use permit (IUP) provided by the City of East Bethel. The permit provides for oversight of the property through unannounced visits by Animal Humane Society humane agents and Dr. Johnson.
The last visit was conducted by Dr. Johnson, the findings of which did not provide indication that the animals were suffering from body condition scores that required intervention from Animal Humane Society.
About Animal Humane Society's Humane Investigations Team
Animal Humane Society employs the only two professional humane agents covering the entire state of Minnesota to assist law enforcement with the investigation and enforcement of Minnesota's animal statutes. It has been its duty and desire to help animals in distress; however, it must follow the process and procedure dictated by Minnesota state law to ensure it can continue its work to protect Minnesota animals. Unfortunately, the law requires harm to come to an animal before steps can be taken to address abuse and neglect.
In 2010, the department opened 753 cases affecting more than 6,000 Minnesota animals.