YORK — A stunning case of animal neglect saw three people plead guilty in a Newmarket court, about an hour north of Toronto in York Region, earlier this month.
Victoria, her husband David and their son Jason, Small pleaded guilty to one count each of permitting an animal to be in distress. Distress, in this case, was an understatement.
The farm they rented was found to be littered with dead and dying horses last April. In total, 15 horses were found starving, alongside the decaying corpses of 13 others.
The three rented a farm at Stouffville, just east of Newmarket, in August of 2017, calling themselves Speedsport Stables. They rented the farm under the auspices of thoroughbred horse breeders (they weren’t), and even convinced landowner Michael Cheung to go 50/50 on three yearlings, despite the fact that Cheung has zero horse racing experience.
By December of 2017, there were money problems. An OSPCA officer made a visit but found nothing amiss. Cheung eventually locked the Smalls out of the property and went to see for himself.
There were 14 horses and one pony that were so hungry they’d tried to eat the wooden posts on the fence. A veterinarian described the animals’ condition as the worst he’d ever seen.
A neighbour found the dead animals, buried on the property. The Crown Attorney is reportedly seeking a 90-day jail sentence and a lifetime ban on owning livestock.
The Smalls were to appear for sentencing on April 18.