Horse Rescue Operator Acquitted of Animal Cruelty

Horse Rescue Operator Acquitted of Animal Cruelty



Updated November 16, 2012

A horse rescuer who let a 10-year-old girl witness a dog being euthanized was convicted Thursday of child endangerment but acquitted of animal cruelty.

Mona Kanciper runs New York Horse Rescue out of her Butler Horse Farm on Long Island, New York. She could face up to a year in jail for the child endangerment conviction at her sentencing in Decemeber.

Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson said after a two-week non-jury trial that Kanciper was justified in euthanizing the dog and two others.

Kanciper’s attorney, Paul Gianelli, said the dogs were an aged Saint Bernard, a Great Dane mix that had bitten a delivery man and a husky mix that had killed a cat. He said she euthanized the dogs by injecting them with a solution called SomnaSol, commonly used to put down animals.

But the judge ruled that starting the euthanasia process for one of the dogs in the presence of the 10-year-old girl was “egregious.”

Separately, he ruled there was insufficient evidence Kanciper knew that a horse was being put down at the Manorville farm when she sent a 12-year-old girl to the area where it was happening.

The girls were students who took horseback lessons at the farm, which bills itself as a horse rescue facility.

Kanciper has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“It is a sad commentary about our criminal justice system that without any substantive investigation, the SCSPCA and the district attorney’s office wasted the time and resources of the court and the people of Suffolk County,” she said in a statement. “My reputation and that of my family and my business have been irreparably damaged by this experience.”

A spokesman for the district attorney had no comment on Kanciper’s statement.

Kanciper’s rescue is the non-profit that Leland Neff received a welsh pony from in late 2009; the organization’s site states:

“To Whom it May Concern, This is to say that Mona Kanciper shipped a lovely welsh mare named Mona Lisa to me sometime in November of 2009. We had been in correspondence about the bad health of her husband Jud Butler from a broken neck. The mare arrived in lovely condition and is here on my farm. Leland N., New York”

Neff’s 22 horses were swept away when Tropical Storm Irene hit Schoharie County in late August. Six of his horses were found deceased on his property this week. According to the press release, Kanciper’s New York Horse Rescue was going to help with the UAV costs to search for Neff’s horses until the FAA did not approve the use of the drones earlier this month.

Kanciper’s husband, Dr. Judson L. Butler, a veterinarian, and the rescue’s founder died tragically in December 2009.

Kanciper says she plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

Updated January 24, 2012

The President of New York Horse Rescue has been sentenced to three years probation for letting a child watch her euthanize a dog. Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson also banned Mona Kanciper from owning any dogs during this time. She has said she will appeal the judge’s conviction.


Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Suffolk County (Hudson, J.), rendered January 24, 2012, convicting her of endangering the welfare of a child, after a nonjury trial, and imposing sentence.

ORDERED that the judgment is reversed, on the law, the indictment is dismissed, and the matter is remitted to the County Court, Suffolk County, for the purpose of entering an order in its discretion pursuant to CPL 160.50.

The defendant was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child after she injected a dog with a tranquilizer in the presence of a child. Viewed in the light most favorable to the People (see People v Contes, 60 NY2d 620, 621), the evidence failed to establish that witnessing the injection of the tranquilizer was likely to result in harm to the physical, mental, or moral welfare of the child (see Penal Law § 260.10[1]; People v Hitchcock, 98 NY2d 586, 590-591). There was no evidence demonstrating that the child was aware, at the time she witnessed the injection, that the defendant intended to euthanize the dog later that day, or that she was upset by seeing the dog receive the tranquilizer injection. The child was familiar with medical treatments requiring injections, as she had seen her own pet dog injected on many occasions to treat his diabetes. Consequently, the evidence supporting the defendant’s conviction was not legally sufficient (see People v Contes, 60 NY2d at 621).

In light of our determination, we need not address the defendant’s remaining contentions.