A horse named Justice may well get his sweet revenge. The 8-year-old American Quarter Horse and Appaloosa cross is suing his former owner for $100,000 with help from a legal advocacy group for animals, the Oregonian reports. Justice is seeking damages from Gwendolyn Vercher, 51, who was sentenced in July to three years' probation for first-degree animal neglect. According to court documents, Vercher "denied Justice adequate food and shelter for months, abandoning him to starve and freeze. As a result of this neglect, Justice was left debilitated and emaciated. He continues to suffer from this neglect, including a prolapsed penis from frostbite." Justice’s injuries will apparently require extensive care for the rest of his life, which makes it difficult to find him a home.
Although a horse plaintiff is rare, animals have legally protected rights, according to Sarah Hanneken, one of the attorneys representing Justice for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "Victims of crimes can sue their abusers and animals are sentient beings that are recognized as victims under Oregon law," she says. "So with that premise, we've come to the conclusion that animals can sue their abusers and we're confident of our stance in this case." If Justice prevails, the damages awarded will be deposited into a trust and used to pay for his medical care. Justice now lives at a non-profit horse rescue in Oregon, People reports. If he wins, he might just kick up his heels. (Read more horse stories.)