The former American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman faces 11 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. His new defense attorney, Jay Kessler, told the court he is filing a motion for dismissal based on expert testimony that Haws provided the horses the appropriate standard of care.
In July 2014, authorities found 10 dead horses in a pasture after a neighbor reported smelling death near his home. There was a single survivor among the herd. Salt Lake County Prosecutor Sim Gill stated early in the case the horses went without water for up to five days.Temperatures during that time were near 100 degrees.
Authorities discovered a kink in the hose that was supposed to provide the horses water. Instead, the 500-gallon trough ended up bone dry.
The day prior to the gruesome discovery, Haws checked on his Running U Livestock herd using the “drive by method,” for the first time in nine days, according to court documents. “The defendant said he parked on the road and looked into the pasture. The pasture is too big for him to see all the horses from the side of the road, but he did see two horses standing in the distance…”
Chief Veterinarian for the State of Utah, Warren Hess, DVM opined about driving by a herd to check on them. “They need to get close enough to observe the horses’ body conditions.”
Seven of the horses’ bodies were too decomposed to perform necropsies. It was determined the horses died from “severe dehydration” from necropsies on the three other horses.
Felony charges were a possibility, but Prosecutor Gill said when the charges were filed that the investigation showed negligence rather than intentional harm. If found guilty he faces a maximum of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $11,000.
Haws was slated to participate as a 2015 Road to the Horse Wild Card competitor. After he was charged, Road to the Horse received complaints from fans via social media for allowing him to compete. Haws’ name is no longer listed on the horsemanship competition’s website. A message to Road to the Horse trying to confirm Haws is no longer participating was not returned.
Rate My Horse PRO has attempted to reach Ward Stutz, senior director of breed integrity and welfare for the AQHA multiple times since November. He has failed to respond regarding the Executive Committee’s decision regarding Haws’ status as a member.
The motion is scheduled for oral argument on April 10th.