The owner of Jenny's Farm Market in Webster Township plead no contest to two counts of animal cruelty in Washtenaw County District Court on Wednesday.
Farm owner Burton Hoey will face sentencing on March 28.
According to a press release from the Humane Society of Huron Valley, investigators seized eight farm animals from Jenny’s Farm Market on Sept. 6, 2012 and filed animal cruelty charges against Hoey.
“We’ve been to Jenny’s Farm Market numerous times over the past 10 years because of complaints of abused and neglected animals,” said Matt Schaecher, director of Animal Cruelty Investigation and Rescue. “We see this conviction as a victory for the many animals that have suffered. We know there are many community members and families that will feel the same.”
In response to the conviction, Hoey maintained he was not neglecting the animals, and is being unfairly targeted as a scapegoat for the Humane Society's rescue efforts.
According to Hoey, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office offered to lower the penalty from $11,000 to $7,000 in exchange for a plea deal.
"The only reason why I plead 'no contest' was to save $11,000. I didn't give in because I was guilty, I gave in so I could save money," he said.
Hoey said he believes the Humane Society had no cause to remove two horses, four donkeys and two goats from the property.
"They claimed the animals had issues. I didn't initiate the issues, human nature did," Hoey said.
One of the horses he said was suffering from the heaves, a chronic lung condition similar to asthma in humans.
"My veternarian looked at the horse and felt there was nothing he could do to solve the problem, but he didn't recommend getting rid of it because he thought the condition could clear up on its own," Hoey explained.
The other seized horse had an abscess on its hoof that Hoey said had already begun to heal. Hoey said the Humane Society removed the donkeys because the hooves needed trimming, which he said is performed regularly by his farm workers.
"I explained that I was treating the animals for the injuries, but the Humane Society didn't care. They just came in and took my animals without justification," he said.
When Dexter Patch wrote about this case in September, several Patch readers weighed in.
"The Humane Society has been warning and advising Burton Hoey for years," wrote Elaine Owsley. "People who witness the animal's condition have reported to HVHC time and time again. For him to say 'why didn't they warn me or advise me' is laughable."
Despite his objections, Hoey said taking the plea deal was a better alternative than going to trial.
"In front of the right jury, they may have gotten me on animal cruelty," Hoey said. "I'm not a bad person."
The farm animals that HSHV has been caring for will now be put up for adoption. To find out how to adopt the animals email firstname.lastname@example.org.