Another court date, the third so far, has passed with no appearance by the defendants in a horrific cruelty case uncovered in May of this year. SpeedSport Stables has left a trail of dead and starving horses as they have moved through the USA and into Ontario, Canada. The owners, David Lee Small, Victoria Small and Jason Leroy Small, are currently facing nine counts of animal cruelty and abuse causing death. On the property they rented in Stouffville, Ontario, 15 horses were found starving and living in horrendous conditions, and 13 horses were discovered dead, buried in a field, under a manure pile and in a trailer.

As frustrating as it has been for the group of horse lovers dedicated to pursuing justice in this case, some encouraging news came out of today’s brief session. The Crown is on the record that it will be pursing jail time for the defendants, essentially stating that it will be pursuing the most severe penalties possible under the law “given the serious nature of the case.” Under provincial animal welfare legislation, the maximum penalty is a $60,000 fine, two years in jail, or both, for each count.

The Crown attorney also noted that defense counsel might end up in a conflict of interest position and that each defendant would be wise to seek their own counsel. While it sounds like simply more delays, it does appear that this case will become a landmark one for Ontario’s Animal Protection Act and the province is proceeding carefully so as not to jeopardize any charges.

The Crown also applied a “Jenkins Caution” allowing for the arrest of the defendants should they not show up at the next court date of October 26th.

If you are interested in encouraging the application of the most severe penalties in this case, a petition and brief survey are available here. Furthermore, if you’d like to contribute to a Community Impact Statement being drafted by attorney D. Sid Freeman, click here.