POCATELLO — A Bannock County judge issued an order Tuesday prohibiting a repeat animal cruelty offender from owning any animals until at least February 2021.
During a probation violation hearing at the Bannock County Courthouse on Tuesday, Judge Aaron Thompson said Shane Haggard, 46, of Fort Hall, is prohibited from owning any animals until his probation term ends and that any violation will result in significant jail time.
“The court is going to prohibit you from owning any animal during the remainder of your probation,” Thompson said. “You’re not to own any animal, any horse, dog, cat or chicken — no animals whatsoever. That is a specific prohibition of your probation.”
Haggard was back in court Tuesday after he voluntarily turned himself in to the Bannock County Jail on April 11 in response to a warrant that had been issued for his arrest for a probation violation following what was his third animal cruelty conviction. Once booked into jail, Haggard posted a $50 bond on the same day so he could be released, and he was ordered to appear in court on Tuesday regarding the probation violation.
Bannock County Deputy Prosecutor Alan Boehme alleged during Tuesday’s hearing that Haggard violated the terms of his two-year probation sentence that he received in February.
Thompson convicted Haggard of his third misdemeanor animal cruelty charge in January after a nine-month Bannock County Sheriff’s Office investigation revealed that Haggard neglected several horses he kept on his 33-acre Fort Hall property for more than a year beginning in September 2017.
In 2008, authorities found dead horses and dozens more that were sick or starving on Haggard’s property, including two horses — one with a broken leg lying in feces and another tangled in a fence — that had to be euthanized.
As a result, Haggard was convicted of two counts of animal cruelty in 2008 but received a very light sentence with Judge Rick Carnaroli ordering no jail time and suspending a $1,000 fine imposed on Haggard.
During Haggard’s bench trial in January on his third animal cruelty charge, Thompson found that at least one of the 14 horses Haggard kept on his property endured neglect prior to its death in June 2018. Three horses died on Haggard’s property between September 2017 and June 2018, Boehme said during the trial.
Though Haggard faced a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine at his February sentencing, Thompson suspended the jail sentence and ordered Haggard to pay $657.50 in fines and to serve two years of supervised probation.
A condition of Haggard’s probation stated he had to either get rid of the horses currently on his property or pay a horse expert or veterinarian to conduct a weekly assessment of the condition of the horses.
Haggard’s probation officer filed the probation violation charge because Haggard had only provided one expert assessment of his horses since he was sentenced. Boehme said in court Tuesday that the only assessment was submitted on March 19, adding that extenuating circumstances could be the reason Haggard had failed to submit additional reports.
Boehme said it may have been difficult for Haggard to submit proof of the assessments of his animals because he had been recovering from surgeries related to a gunshot wound to his chest he suffered in late March. Haggard said the self-inflicted gunshot wound was accidental and occurred when he inadvertently pulled the trigger of a pistol while he was removing bullets from the gun.
While he was recovering, Haggard had asked his son to care for the animals. Haggard did not say whether additional assessments had been completed but told the court on Tuesday that he no longer possessed any animals at all.
Boehme said an investigation confirmed the remaining horses on Haggard’s property had been given away or sold.
However, based on the serious nature of Haggard’s January conviction of misdemeanor animal cruelty, coupled with his two previous convictions for the same charge, Thompson said he would not be willing to revoke the two years of probation and issued the order prohibiting Haggard from owning any animals until at least February 2021, when his probation is scheduled to end.
Thompson did not order any additional jail time or fees, credited Haggard for the one day he spent in jail on April 11 and cautioned the Fort Hall man from attempting to violate his probation by procuring any animals.
If Haggard violates his probation again, he faces the maximum six-month jail sentence of his third animal cruelty conviction.
“Mr. Haggard, I will simply warn you that there is still a significant amount of jail time hanging over your head,” Thompson said during Tuesday’s hearing. “I am not going to incarcerate you associated with this (probation) violation. But I also want you to understand that there are folks who are watching you and if they believe that you are owning animals they will report you.”