Woman found not guilty in Evansburg animal cruelty case
EDMONTON -- The owner of two horses that were found dead on a rented acreage near Evansburg in 2018 was found not guilty on four animal cruelty charges Wednesday.
On the final day of her trial, Patricia Moore’s defense argued she provided the best care she could for the dozens of animals she and two friends owned at the time.
After being acquitted of two charges of killing, wounding or maiming an animal, Moore still faced two criminal charges each of willfully causing pain to an animal and cruelty to an animal.
However, Judge Steven Bilodeau found on Wednesday the Crown couldn’t prove within a reasonable doubt that Moore wilfully caused the horses to starve.
"The fact that the horses died is tragic, but that's not enough to convict Miss Moore," the judge told the courtroom during his verdict.
Bilodeau found Moore a credible witness and believes she believed at the time that someone else was caring for the horses.
"I'm honestly sickened," professional equestrian Brenda Belanger told CTV News Edmonton of the result.
"So she knows what it takes to care for an animal, so yeah, I think to a certain extent, yes. She did know what she was doing by not feeding them."
Moore’s trial in Stony Plain Provincial Court started Monday.
Two years ago, two horses of dozens in her care were found dead on a property near Evansburg she was renting.
A vet who was called to the acreage in December 2018 told court many of Moore’s horses were malnourished, and there was seemingly no food or water accessible to the animals.
Moore said the landowner was responsible for feeding her animals, which he disputed.
Belanger, who has been following the case closely, said many in the equestrian community would find Wednesday's news tough to accept.
"It's time that we start petitioning the government and everybody else involved with getting regulations to what is acceptable, and what's not acceptable and deemed as abuse."
Moore also faces 27 charges under the Animal Protection Act, including nine counts each of causing distress to an animal, failing to provide adequate food and water, and failing to provide appropriate care when an animal is sick or injured.
An Alberta SPCA spokesperson said those charges relate to different animals on a different property.
They are scheduled to go to trial next spring. The Crown will have to decide whether to continue pursuing those charges.
In total, Moore now faces 41 charges, with the rest being made by the RCMP regarding breached bail conditions and assault of an officer.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson
An earlier version of this article stated Moore was acquitted on two counts of killing, wounding or maiming an animal becasue the charges had referred to dogs. In fact, the Crown invited the court to acquit her on the charges because there was no evidence she killed, wounded or maimed the animals.