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A horse was neglected by its ‘owner’. Now the horse is suing.

At a veterinarian's exam last year, when he was named Shadow, he was 300 pounds underweight, his black coat lice-ridden, his skin scabbed and his genitals so frost-bitten that they might still require amputation.

KARIN BRULLIARD: ‘Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used to be named Shadow. And when he was named Shadow, he suffered. At a veterinarian’s exam last year, he was 300 pounds underweight, his black coat lice-ridden, his skin scabbed and his genitals so frostbitten that they might still require amputation.

The horse had been left outside and underfed by his previous owner, who last summer pleaded guilty to criminal neglect. And now Justice, who today resides with other rescued equines on a quiet wooded farm within view of Oregon’s Cascade mountains, is suing his former owner for negligence. In a lawsuit filed in his new name in a county court, the horse seeks at least $100,000 for veterinary care, as well as damages “for pain and suffering,” to fund a trust that would stay with him no matter who is his caretaker.

The complaint is the latest bid in a quixotic quest to get courts to recognize animals as plaintiffs, something supporters and critics alike say would be revolutionary. The few previous attempts — including a recent high-profile case over whether a monkey can own a copyright — have failed, with judges ruling in various ways that the nonhumans lacked legal standing to sue. But Justice’s case, the animal rights lawyers behind it contend, is built on court decisions and statutes that give it a stronger chance, particularly in a state with some of the nation’s most progressive animal protection laws.

“There have been a lot of efforts to try to get animals not only to be protected but to have the right to go to court when their rights are violated,” said Matthew Liebman, director of litigation at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which filed the suit in Justice’s name. Those “haven’t found the right key to the courthouse door. And we’re hopeful that this is the key”.’ SOURCE…

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