|The Final Judgement by: Linda Brink
[Suzi and Whiskey News]
August 01, 2010
Dear Friends of Suzi and Whiskey,
For those of you who are not aware, the final judgment regarding punishment of Keum Lee and Chong Lee for the misdemeanor conviction of abuse inflicted on two horses in their care, Suzi and Whiskey, has been rendered.
1. Legal ownership of Suzi and Whiskey was taken away from the Lees and awarded to Equine Rescue Inc. (http://www.equine-rescue.org/), the horse rescue organization that originally took them in after the seizure, and worked so hard to heal them.
2. An Order Not To Own has been issued to the Lees, which means they are forbidden to ever again own animals in Orange County, NY. The Court decided to allow them to keep one dog now in their care.
3. Each Lee will be required to serve 300 hours of community service.
4. Each Lee will be on probation for three years, for the crimes they committed against these horses. They will, therefore, be required to report to a probation officer throughout this entire time.
5. The Lees are require to pay full restitution to both Equine Rescue Inc and Pine Bush Equine, for the cost of care and medical treatment necessary to save the horses. This amount comes out to be just shy of $22,000.
Judge Berry commented on how moved he was by communications sent to him about this case, and he was clearly supportive of the fact that the Lees had not been allowed to simply walk off, with the horses and a fine, after causing such anguish to these animals. He apparently did seriously consider ordering jail time, and just as clearly, the Lees were in fear this would be the punishment. However, both Lees do have health issues, and neither has prior convictions. The Judge felt justice would be better served if the Lees were required to do something constructive as a punishment, hence his decision. It should be noted that jail sentencing would very likely have triggered an appeal process. As things stand, this apparently has been avoided.
Our personal feeling is that this was a strong, good judgment. Although we do feel the Prosecutor proved his felony case, and he did work so very hard to attain true justice for the horses, we also understand the felony law language regarding animal abuse is written to avoid both prosecution and conviction for crimes relating to animal cruelty. We understand, as well, that the case would certainly have been appealed, upon felony conviction, and very possibly overturned, leading to a less imposing punishment than the one finally handed down. All these things are realities when one considers the law and animal cruelty. Animals suffer; their abusers are not punished, or punished with a wrist slap. And so often, they seek and are awarded return of the very animals they have documentably abused. Judge Berry did not, in this case, let the Lees off lightly. Rather, he threw the book at them.
In closing: heartfelt thanks to all of you for your phone calls, letters, faxes, for your support of justice for Suzi and Whisk. You cared. It made a difference. Do know: Suzi will likely not live a normal life span as a result of this abuse. Without functional salivary glands, she will forever be at risk. As she ages, the facial bone damage caused by the terrible infection, untreated for so long, will cause her to suffer. In all probability, she will reach a point in time when the act of eating her food, with aching facial bones and without salivary function, will prove too painful. In short, she will forever bear the wounds of her abusers; she will never be healed. Whiskey will fare better, healthwise. However, one day, losing Suzi will indeed break his heart. Lynda reports that, throughout, he was utterly dedicated to Suzi, would not leave her side, was unrelentingly protective. And so, the abuse these horses endured will, in fact, never be left behind them. Truly, the Lees will haunt them their whole lives. And how do you punish that?
In closing, from these two horses:
Thanks goes out to each one of you. By forcing things to go forward, you made the difference in the path their lives would, and did, take. One path led to hell, one path led to heaven. Truly, taking action did save them.
Thanks to Lynda Broas and Equine Rescue Inc. Because of the work you do for horses in need, these two will never have less than green pastures, and your very special loving care. We urge everyone who reads this to support the work you do in saving horses. There are far too few hands-on organizations helping horses in desperate need.
To Rachael Fiske, of Pine Bush Equine: thank you, for never giving up on Suzi.
To Lucy Muller: thank you, also, for never giving up, and for your outrage. It proved to be contagious.
To Kerry Clair and Matt DeAngelis, and to all the supporters of Pets Alive who stood tall for this one: thank you. The DA's Office will never forget you.
To Orange County District Attorney Francis Phillips: you could have ignored us, but--you didn't.
And finally, to Jamie Ferrara, Orange County Assistant District Attorney: you put your heart into it. No one could ever ask for more. Not ever.
To so many others: thank you, so much, for caring. This time, it made a difference. And please, never, ever, turn away from an animal in need. Look into their eyes and feel their pain. It's there. It's real. They have, in the end, only you to help them.
Director, Sunnyskies Bird & Animal Sanctuary