An 8-year-old horse has sued its 51-year-old owner, Gwendolyn Vercher, from Cornelius, Oregon who abandoned it outside during the winter last year at the mercy of severe frostbite and skin infection.

A report by odditycentral.com says a concerned neighbour suggested that Justice be taken to the veterinarian for treatment, having seen the state in which the animal was.

The news website further reported that the veterinarian “determined that the horse was emaciated and its penis had prolapsed and could not retract because it was so swollen and heavy due to severe frostbite.”

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Now, the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Portland has made a legal team available for Justice and they have sued Gwendolyn Vercher for damages in excess of $100,000 to put in a trust fund that will be solely meant for the future accommodation and veterinary care of the horse.

A member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Matthew Liebman is reported to have told ABC news that: “He was extremely emaciated — about 300 pounds below body weight for a horse — and most significantly, he suffered from penile frostbite as a result of his exposure to the cold and that was left untreated for months.”

When Sound Equine Options took custody of Justice on March 16, 2017, Gwendolyn Vercher subsequently on July 10, 2017 met with the organisation and agreed to compensate it for the cost of care and veterinary services it incurred for the animal.

However, she reportedly failed to meet the August 10, deadline agreed on between her and Sound Equine Options, hence the legal action.

One of Justice’s legal team members, Sarah Hanneken was quoted as saying: “The Oregon legislature clearly established an anti-cruelty statute for the safety and protection of animals.

“Victims of crimes can sue their abusers and animals are sentient beings that are recognized as victims under Oregon law. So with that premise, we’ve come to the conclusion that animals can sue their abusers and we’re confident of our stance in this case.”

This case has been successfully filed following a landmark ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court in 2014 that animals can also be victims of crime, because they also have rights protected by law just like humans.