A Michigan puppy mill owner was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay a steep fine after cursing a judge during a Zoom court hearing, just 10 months after authorities seized 24 dogs from his residence.
The civil trial and forfeiture hearing regarding the complaints filed against Joe L. Horne Jr., 38, took place remotely on Tuesday and via Zoom. Horne, who was out of jail on bail, joined the call on his cell phone, WJRT-TV reported.
The prosecution alleged that Horne failed to provide proper care for the dogs and called Carrollton Township Police Sgt. Christopher J. Kellett to the witness box.
Kellett said during the proceedings that he executed a search warrant at Horne’s home on March 15. That morning, police also arrested Horne for domestic violence.
Kellett explained that as soon as he entered the house, he was struck by an “overwhelming” smell of dog urine and feces. He also said there was “a large amount of dog feces in the garden” and the conditions were unsafe for the animals.
Kellett said Animal Control was then contacted and seized 24 dogs from the residence. He explained that the dogs were found in cages around the house and inside a detached garage. He said there were rows of caged dogs, some stacked on top of each other.
Horne had bred pit bull and American bully mixes and sold them on the “BullyTreatz Home of Canelon” Facebook page. On the Facebook page, Horne described the dog mixes as “mini monsters” and “microbullies.”
According to the Humane Society, any “high-volume breeding facility that produces puppies for profit” and fails to consider animal health to maximize profits is considered a puppy mill.
The Animal Welfare Act, which was passed in 1966, ensures that breeders meet specific standards for the care of animals raised for resale. In Michigan, state law requires certain licenses but does not require inspections.
Horne, who represented himself in Tuesday’s proceedings, began to argue with Saginaw County Circuit Judge Manvel Trice III after he was repeatedly asked not to testify during his cross-examination .
Horne then became agitated and began interrupting Trice who attempted to explain that he should listen and not talk over him. Eventually, Trice warned that if Horne interrupted him again, he would hold him in contempt of court.
That’s when Horne yelled profanities at Trice, including “fuck you,” and told Trice to “kiss my ass,” WJRT-TV reported. Following the argument, Trice ordered Horne to spend 93 days in jail and postponed the rest of the hearing.
“Given his inability to voluntarily participate in these proceedings, the court will enter judgment by default,” Trice announced after Saginaw County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Straka requested that the hearing continue so that they could ensure that the animals would find “better homes”. “
According to Bonnie Kanicki, director of animal care and control for Saginaw County, 17 of the 24 dogs are still at the shelter and two have been euthanized.
The total cost of housing the dogs and their veterinary care came to $84,678, which Horne now owes the county. Trice said he had 72 hours to pay the fine and he was arrested on Wednesday for contempt of court.
Horne also lost ownership of all 24 dogs and he also faces an animal cruelty charge, WJRT-TV reported.