By Daniel Lai
Burton Hoey, owner of Jenny’s Farm Market in Dexter, was sentenced to 24 months of probation Wednesday for two counts of animal cruelty.
According to a press release from the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Hoey will also have to pay court costs and restitution and will need to complete 50 hours of community service.
Hoey will be able to keep the animals he currently owns and can continue to operate his market, but during the 24-month probation period, he will not be able to acquire any other animals. The other condition of his probation requires Hoey to have monthly visits and reports from a licensed large animal veterinarian.
The Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) seized eight farm animals from Jenny’s Farm Market on Sept. 6, which led to the animal cruelty charges against Hoey. The list of neglected and sick animals included two horses, four donkeys and two goats.
The last two animals that were rescued from Jenny’s Farm Market in 2012, Junior, a brown, Percheron draft horse, and Olive, a 2-year-old donkey, have been placed with a farm animal rescue in Georgia.
“We believe animal cruelty is a serious crime inflicted on those completely innocent and unable to protect themselves. We worked very hard to end the cruel conditions under which these defenseless animals were kept and to provide medical treatment and ongoing care to those that were seized. Our reward is seeing a happy ending for those like Junior and Olive,” said Matt Schaecher, director of Animal Cruelty Investigation and Rescue.
Hoey pled no contest to the charges in January.
In response to his conviction in February, 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 costs 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 the animals from the property.
One of the horses he said was suffering from the heaves, a chronic lung condition similar to asthma in humans.
"My veterinarian looked at the horse and felt that 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.
Schaecher said in February that the Humane Society has been to the farm several times over the past decade because of complaints of animal neglect and abuse.
“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," Schaecher said.
Hoey said in Feburary that he will continue to operate the farm as usual.