A horse boarder in East Bethel has been charged with 35 counts of animal cruelty stemming from years-long investigations by the Animal Humane Society into conditions at the man's ranch.
Five years ago, neighbors, former employees, and reporters took note of Lowell George Friday's emaciated-looking horse herd. But it's taken until now for formal charges to be handed down. They describe in detail the hellish-sounding conditions that Friday's 60-plus horses allegedly lived under.[jump]
Friday was convicted in 2009 of a misdemeanor cruelty charge after a malnourished colt died on his farm, NV Horses. He was ordered to cooperate with the Humane Society as a condition of his parole.
In August, Anoka County received another formal complaint against Friday and dispatched an Animal Humane Society investigator to the property. A vet also accompanied and was sent in to assess the health of the 64 horses living there. Any animal that scored less than "3" on the "body condition scoring" scale would be confiscated.
According to the criminal complaint released today, the investigator found the horses lived in piles of feces and drank from a contaminated water supply. The vet identified two horses who scored a 1 and 2 on the body condition scale and were transported to the University of Minnesota vet center for care. The complaint says Friday refused to allow eight other malnourished horses (who scored a 1.5 rating) to go with them, and the team returned two days later with a warrant to take them away.
The same process was repeated in November, when the Human Society removed seven horses scoring less than a 3.
According to Anoka County, nearly all the horses displayed some combination (or all) of the following symptoms: Severe emaciation, muscle wasting, lice infestation; overgrown, chipped, or cracked hooves; and untreated lacerations. Almost all the horses also had a case of strongyle worms, a gastrointestinal parasite that can be fatal and is sometimes contracted from drinking contaminated water.
During removal from the property, the complaint says one of the horse's hindquarters collapsed underneath her, and it was discovered she had an irregularly fast heart beat caused by a heart murmur. Another was lame in both front legs and his teeth were worn to the gum line.
Friday has not been arrested. Each of the 35 counts carry a maximum sentence of a $3,000 fine or up to a year in jail.