The owner of Kountz Arena, in Montana, is offering a glimpse into his horse care practices from a prior animal abuse case. Dayle Kountz is charged with felony animal cruelty.
Kountz, who owns more than 40 horses, is asking a judge to dismiss felony animal cruelty charges. Kountz allegedly kept his stallion alive, although the horse was missing part of his leg. Kountz was charged with aggravated animal cruelty and felony animal cruelty in May 2015.
Young Doc Bar suffered a laceration to his leg in December 2014. Kountz allegedly failed to provided the horse with licensed vet care.
Part of the horse’s leg fell off leaving a bloody stump.
Kountz is also accused of allowing a comatose calf to suffer. He is charged with a third count of felony cruelty to an animal, since he has a prior related conviction. Kountz can only be convicted of two counts.
Kountz was convicted of animal cruelty
after leaving another injured horse without treatment. The complaint filed in 1999 states Kountz failed to provide licensed vet care to a mare that had a broken left hind leg for four months.
An affidavit from Kountz regarding his prior animal cruelty case is included with the current case’s motions. Kountz states,
“I told Pat Hess that the horse had just recently broken its leg and that I planned to take him to a horse sale which is a commonly accepted livestock practice. Ms. Hess told me that my plans didn’t matter. That I was guilty just because the horse had a broken leg and I didn’t get it veterinary care as required by law.”
The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends euthanasia when a horse suffers a severe traumatic injury.
It is unknown what happened to Kountz’s mare.
Kountz pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay $130 in the case. Despite the case’s disposition more than 16-years ago, Kountz states if the judge had asked specific questions, “the judge would have known I wasn’t guilty and would have refused to accept my guilty plea.”
The defense alleges numerous issues with the state’s current felony case. Included are that the state improperly relies on misdemeanor conduct to charge a felony offense, unconstitutional seizure, and intimidation of a defense witness with threat of criminal prosecution.
The prosecution states felony animal cruelty is differentiated from a misdemeanor in Montana when an animal is knowingly or negligently
subjected to mistreatment or neglect as a result of torture. Court documents state the defendant said he knew the stallion needed to be euthanized, but he wanted to collect semen first.
Concerned horse show exhibitors found the emaciated stallion with his unwrapped, bloody stump lying in his own filth in late March 2015. Authorities were called, leading to an investigation.
The defense states Young Doc Bar was comfortable, not in pain, and that the appropriate medical care was provided.
Kountz alleges he was led to believe that if he destroyed both animals, the case was closed. The prosecution disputes Kountz’s allegation.
Dr. Gary Cook, DVM recommended both the horse and calf be euthanized, according to court documents. Kountz told the deputy, by phone, that he would shoot the horse and calf when he returned to town that night.
Workers loaded the stallion, with only three legs, onto a horse trailer and hauled him off the property. The defendant emailed photos showing both animals were deceased, as ordered by authorities. Necropsies were not performed.
Kountz has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in April. He faces a maximum of four-years in prison and a $5,000 fine if he is found guilty.
A motion hearing is scheduled for January 22.
View Case (click to read court filings)