Monica Thors, standing trial for abuses to Standardbreds seized in late 2014, has served papers to fifteen parties for charges including conspiracy, murder and animal abuse.
Often, the cases that seem like they should be the most straightforward turn out to be anything but — and such is the story with Monica Thors, charged with nine counts of animal cruelty in New Jersey for her abuse (some would say torture) of Standardbred horses under her care. We first introduced Monica Thors’ story to Horse Nation on December 2, 2014, and reported on the seizure of seven horses from the property which Thors rented on December 4, 2014.
In quick summary, Thors had been trimming, filing and sanding the hooves of her horses “to the quick,” apparently believing herself to be helping heal the animals’ severe founder (the founder presumably caused by Thors overfeeding the horses, though she stated it was caused by glue used by the farrier or perhaps poison). Photos and videos showed horses painfully hobbling about on wrapped legs, hanging from the barn rafters on slings and lying in stalls as their hooves bled. While individuals and local rescues as well as higher agencies such as the state Department of Agriculture had been reporting these abuses to the New Jersey SPCA since early 2013, no apparent action had been taken.
CBS News investigated Thors’ farm in late November, breaking the story to the wider public, and by the first week of December the NJSPCA was finally on the scene to remove the horses. Thors was formally charged and indicted with nine felony counts of animal cruelty in June of 2015 and plead not guilty in October of 2015. The next step in the trial process begins on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
While the evidence of animal cruelty seems overwhelmingly clear to pretty much any observer, this story took an even more bizarre turn at the end of last week, when fifteen parties were served papers by Monica Thors: the NJSPCA, Peter Gerry, Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Larry Donato, CBS, reporter Charlotte Hoffman, Kathy McGuire, Mark Waterman, Grace and Richard Allen, Dept of Agriculture, Dr. Reist, Anouck Bush, Dr. Bachman and Jenna Gincone.
This is a civil action, with these organizations and individuals charged with violation of Thors’ fourth, fifth and fourteenth amendment rights, false advertising, illegal trespassing, copyright violations, civil conspiracy, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, defamation, negligence, loss of income, grief, humiliation, indignity, murder, attempted murder, animal cruelty, illegal seizure, death, starvation and torture. Thors seeks damages of $5 million.
We spoke with Kathy McGuire regarding the lawsuit.
“She has each of us in a position,” McGuire stated. “We’re a cast of characters — I am ‘the conspirator who illegally trespassed while acting as an insurance agent.’ I was actually on the property by invitation and wasn’t posing as anybody but myself. The farrier has been painted with a role; the veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture has a role.”
The entire suit stems from an elaborate belief of Thors’ that the seizure of her horses was part of a wide-scale conspiracy to defame her reputation and purposely cause her stress and grief, masterminded by Peter Gerry acting out of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation and funded by a third party, a well-known harness breeder and member of the Trotting Hall of Fame in Sweden named Margaretta Wallenius Kleberg. Thors maintains that her horses did not need to be destroyed; the animals that were euthanized were murdered.
While this entire process is likely to be a headache for those involved, this case cannot go forward while Thors is still under trial for animal cruelty. However, interested parties, including Stuart Goldman, founder of Animal Cruelty Enforcement Services and former special investigator for the New Jersey SPCA, argue that it needn’t have come to this point if the New Jersey SPCA had simply acted faster — this cruelty case with all of its evidence had been on the group’s radar since 2013 but nothing was done until December of 2014.
“Animals in this state are rotting because the SPCA will do nothing,” Goldman stated to Horse Nation. “We have great laws in the state of New Jersey — people say ‘we need stronger laws, we need better laws.’ We have great laws. Some of the best. But the SPCA is a non-profit; they don’t have the funding to pay for seized animals’ care, so they choose to do nothing.”
However, New Jersey law also states that private citizens can act on behalf of animals if the law does not. As Goldman states, “we’re entering a new age for animals in this state.” If the evidence exists to support animal cruelty, private groups such as Goldman’s non-profit Animal Cruelty Enforcement Services can proceed.
In the meantime, all we can do is stay vigilant in our own horse communities, speaking up when we see true cases of abuse to animals. We will continue to follow Thors’ upcoming trial, so keep an eye on Horse Nation for updates.