Trial Begins in Sonoma County Horse Starvation Case

Posted on May 9, 2013

Animal Legal Defense Fund Gathers Local Support for Justice in Felony Cruelty Case

For immediate release


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund 

SANTA ROSA, Calif. – Tomorrow, May 10, the Cotati-based national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is urging local animal advocates to pack the courtroom in a case of animal cruelty in its own backyard. Mark P. Ross of Rohnert Park is accused of starving to death a champion horse as he slowly suffered in agony beside another horse, who was fully fed. A jury will hear the case of the felony cruelty charge against Ross in tomorrow’s trial.

When: Friday, May 10 at 9am.

Where: Sonoma County Superior Courthouse, Courtroom 13.

600 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95403

"Skim the Excess" was a 6-year-old former racehorse with an outstanding record in racetracks across the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2010, animal control officers discovered his emaciated body in the mud on Ross’ ranch. A necropsy determined the horse had starved to death, and Nicole and Mark Ross were charged with felony animal cruelty by the Sonoma County District Attorney. 29-year-old Nicole E. Ross settled her case with a no contest plea and a 45-day jail sentence on a felony 597(b) charge. Her uncle, 49-year-old Mark P. Ross, faces the same charge, with a maximum possible penalty of 3 years prison and a $20,000 fine.

"This sadistic act of cruelty points to the problems facing horses today, especially former racehorses who are valued only as cash cows," says Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. "We are grateful to the District Attorney’s office for seeking felony charges against local animal abusers who totally disregard the wellbeing of animals in their care. Sonoma County does not tolerate animal cruelty, and we are confident this case will bring justice for Skim the Excess."

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