East Bethel rancher charged with animal cruelty

by Eric Hagen
Staff Writer

A 72-year-old East Bethel man who was facing scrutiny in the past few months for alleged cruelty to horses on his ranch has been officially charged.

One of the horses removed from Lowell Friday’s property and admitted by the University of Minnesota’s Large Animal Hospital for care before it could be adopted. Photo by Sue Kirchoff (University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine)

Lowell George Friday, 18215 Greenbrook Drive N.E., was charged Jan. 9 by Jennifer Nodes, city of East Bethel prosecutor, with 35 gross misdemeanors for the alleged mistreatment of 17 horses that were seized from his property during two separate visits by authorities. His first court appearance is on Feb. 23.

According to the criminal complaint, a concerned citizen called the Animal Humane Society Aug. 26, 2011 with regards to the treatment and health of horses on Lowell’s property.

The property was searched Aug. 29, 2011 by the Animal Humane Society’s Investigator Keith Streff. Veterinarians Dr. Jeff Johnson and Dr. Genevieve Bergman accompanied Streff to evaluate the health of the horses.

Terms of an interim use permit (IUP) agreed on by the city of East Bethel and Friday in March 2009 allowed these people to enter the property for inspection in response to any complaint regarding animal cruelty or negligence.

Streff found 64 horses on the property during the Aug. 29, 2011 search. An evaluation by the two veterinarians determined that 10 of the horses did not meet health standards that the city and Friday had agreed to for the IUP to keep the horses on his property. They had agreed to utilize the Henneke body condition (BCS) scoring system. Friday had been told that a BCS score of three or less would result in removal of these animals for medical care at another site.

According to the complaint, Streff observed an excessive accumulation of manure, pens with antiquated fencing, sharp objects and other potential health hazards to horses along with a water supply in many of the pens that appeared to be algae-ridden and/or contaminated.

Friday signed a custodial release to allow two horses named Doc’s Gold and IRS to be taken off his property, but he would not allow the humane society to take the other eight horses, so the humane society with assistance by the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant Aug. 31, 2011 to seize the other eight horses. The horses were transported to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Clinic.

IRS, a Palomino mare, was assessed a body condition score of one because of extremely prominent spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae, and pelvic bones, as well as withers, shoulders and neck. IRS was also determined to have a severe infestation of lice, a mild strongyle parasite burden, and chipped and cracked hoofs, the complaint alleges.

Doc’s Gold, a Palomino stallion, had “significant generalized muscle wasting consistent with a history of malnutrition,” according to the evaluation summarized in the complaint, as well as lice, a strongyle parasite burden and overgrown front hooves.

The other eight horses that were later seized also showed signs of malnutrition based on body condition, the complaint alleges.

Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Michael Wahl, who was involved in investigating this case, received a phone call from a concerned citizen Nov. 14, 2011 regarding the treatment and health of horses on Lowell’s property.

During a Nov. 16, 2011 search, there were 38 horses present on the property. Of those, seven were determined by veterinarian Dr. Nicole Eller-Medina to have a BCS score of three or less. All seven horses were transported to the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center for evaluation and care.

One of the horses, Lucky Tuxedo, a Paint stallion, had a body condition score of 1. Lucky Tuxedo was evaluated as extremely weak, showing signs of intermittent incoordination, with considerable muscle atrophy over his gluteal muscles, the complaint alleges.

ABC Newspapers asked East Bethel City Administrator Jack Davis if the city council would be discussing possible revocation of Friday’s IUP at the next meeting on Jan. 18.

According to Davis, there would be no discussion of this matter on Jan. 18, and this probably will not be discussed until the case is heard and decided.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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