Prosecutors state Shamus Haws' horses died of dehydration after being without water for up to five days.
A motion filed by the attorney of a Utah horse trainer charged with animal cruelty claims there is no evidence that his client committed a crime. Shamus Haws, of Erda, was charged after 10 of his horses died from dehydration, according to authorities.
A motion to dismiss before Salt Lake County Justice Court contends the Running U Livestock owner did not breach a duty to his horses. It also states there is no evidence that Haws consciously disregarded a risk when he didn’t check on his horses’ water troughs, because the care he gave is the standard of care in the community. Court documents in support of the defendant’s motion states horse ranchers “do not look into the water troughs daily, or even weekly [sic], they rely upon the actions of the horses to tip them off if something is wrong with the water source.”
According to the defenses’ experts, horses dying of thirst will congregate around the last source of water. The large pasture occupied by 11 horses had three water troughs that were empty, including one that had the capacity to hold 718 gallons of water.
Ten horses were found dead in a pasture leased by Haws in July 2014, after a neighbor reported smelling “an odor of decaying flesh”. Authorities mapped where the horses died and detailed the locations in their official reports. “[O]ne horse that was dead by the fence appeared to be trying to get out and had tangled himself in the fence and bit his tongue off.” Another horse was found deceased near the water trough by the railroad tracks. Four horses were found dead under a large tree that served as the “only source of shade in three pastures” for the animals, according to another officer’s notes. Photos from KSL TV-5’s helicopter show the expired horses under the tree’s canopy from the air.
Two horses were found dead near an 8-foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire that surrounds a large pond maintained by the Magna Water Company.
Two days prior to the tragic discovery, Haws checked on the horses using the “drive by method,” for the first time in more than a week, according to court documents. He told authorities he saw two horses standing in the distance. Although dehydrated, one horse did survive. Authorities discovered a kink in the hose to the largest trough. Haws was charged with 11 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty in September 2014.
In response to the defense’s motion, the prosecution states the defendant “cites no law affording the Court jurisdiction to dismiss misdemeanor charges before hearing the evidence.” The state’s response also says there are “many factual disputes” and the case must go to a jury or bench trial so the evidence can be heard.
The judge will hear arguments in the case on Friday, April 10th. Stay with Rate My Horse PRO and we will bring you the judge’s decision as soon as it is available.