A Montana horse arena owner has pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty. Dayle Kountz kept his stallion alive without veterinary care for months although the horse was missing part of its lower leg, records state.
The Bozeman defendant appeared in Gallatin County District Court Wednesday after making a deal with the prosecutor’s office. The state agreed to drop the additional charges of aggravated animal cruelty and felony animal cruelty. One stemmed from Kountz allegedly allowing a comatose calf to suffer.
By entering a no contest plea, Kountz doesn’t admit guilt while acknowledging the prosecution has enough evidence for a conviction. The court treats it the same as a guilty plea.
Authorities began investigating Kountz in March 2015. Horse show competitors at Kountz Arena found Young Doc Bar emaciated, lying in his own filth with a bloody stump instead of a leg.
Documents state Kountz kept the stallion alive after a December 2014 accident to collect the horse’s semen. Doc’s foot rotted off at the fetlock joint about two months later. Kountz euthanized the stallion and calf once authorities got involved.
Kountz owns some 40 horses and has a prior animal cruelty conviction from 1999.
As a part of the plea deal, the prosecution will recommend a two-year suspended sentence meaning Kountz wouldn’t serve any time.
The defense is seeking a deferred sentence. It allows a defendant to serve a probation-like sentence with requirements that can lead to the case’s dismissal if completed successfully.
District Judge Brad Newman is scheduled to sentence Kountz on September 14. While the prosecutor and defense will make their recommendations, the judge has the final say regarding Kountz and his sentence.