Jalupae the horse was left to suffer by starvation, a judge found Tuesday.
Judge Sue Wishart found two Brentwood Bay residents, Clayton Cunningham and David Whiffin, guilty of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, as well as improper care of feeding. The case stems from the emaciation and death by hanging of Jalupae, a 27-year-old Appaloosa gelding.
The two convicted men immediately left the Victoria Law Courts after the verdict was handed down.
“There is no doubt that people were shocked and horrified to learn how Jalupae died,” Wishart said in her judgment.
Five people in the courtroom cried as the verdict was read.
Jalupae died as a result of being hanged from a rope tied to an excavator, on Sept. 15, 2009.
Stephen Oulette, a friend of Whiffin, who was present when the horse was hanged, told the court during the trial that the horse’s neck snapped and the animal died within a half-second.
The guilty verdicts, however, do not stem from the horse’s death.
Wishart said the facts that led her to find the men guilty of causing unnecessary pain and suffering are the same as those in the charge of improper care – the convicted men failed to feed and properly treat the elderly horse, causing it to suffer. Throughout the summer of 2009, SPCA officers, veterinarians and people responsible for Jalupae’s care told both Whiffin and Cunningham on multiple occasions the horse’s teeth were in poor condition, meaning the animal couldn’t swallow hay.
Veterinarians told both men – Whiffin, who owned the horse and the property involved, and Cunningham, who was in charge of caring for Jalupae and two other horses on the farm – Jalupae needed to be on a special diet that was far easier to swallow than hay. In addition, the horse’s teeth needed to be floated, or filed. Whiffin said he didn’t want to pay for the dental care or for the special food.
The vets, as well as the SCPA constables, offered euthanization options for the horse. The officers ordered that Jalupae either receive proper care, or be euthanized.
On Sept. 15, Cunningham looped a rope around Jalupae’s neck, while Whiffin worked the excavator, jerking the bucket to snap the horse’s neck. The animal was taken to a hole Whiffin dug earlier, and buried.
The SCPA officers Erika Paul and Lynsay Bailey did not ask for the body to be exhumed, though Whiffin offered the action. Therefore, there is no proof as to how Jalupae died, Wishart said.
Amanda Sather, a member of the activist group Justice for Jalupe, was in the courtroom during the verdict, becoming emotional while the judgment was read.
“It was what we were expecting,” she said of the verdict afterward. “What matters now is the sentence. That means everything. It sends a message to other animal owners.”
The men’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.