An emaciated horse, seized with six others from an East Bethel ranch in November, will not be returned to its owner, who claimed there was little wrong with the animal, an Anoka County judge has ruled.
Lowell Friday, 72, testified last month before Judge Jenny Walker Jasper that his mare, Special Effects, was graded a 5 on a scale of 1 to 9 during a summer exam. But another veterinarian, called by the Animal Humane Society to Friday's ranch, found a 930-pound animal whose ribs, pelvis, spine and shoulders seemed ready to burst through her skin. Special Effects had a rare heart murmur, cracked hooves, lice and parasites and was graded 1.5 -- with 1 being severely emaciated -- when officials seized her on Nov. 16.
"This ruling has been a long time coming," said Animal Humane Society investigator Keith Streff, who worked with the Anoka County Sheriff's Office to seize 17 horses from Friday's ranch last year. Streff said he has been called to Friday's ranch numerous times over 13 years.
The Humane Society was given full control and custody of Special Effects and will determine appropriate placement of the animal, the judge ruled. After five days of treatment at the University of Minnesota, Special Effects' heart murmur was resolved. The murmur was caused by malnutrition, according to court documents.
Friday is expected to be charged, possibly this week, with animal cruelty, a gross misdemeanor. A spokesperson for the Anoka County courts said a complaint was delivered to the courthouse last Friday but had not been filed as of Monday.
Friday, who could not be reached for comment, told the court that he was seeking only one of his seized horses because that was all he could afford for now.