Animal owners generally want whatever is best for their faithful companions. Sometimes that might even mean giving an animal away to an organization or person that can better care for the animal. Unfortunately for one Georgia woman, her story of giving her beloved horse to someone she thought would care for him may not have a happy ending. A veterinary student is now facing charges after being accused of selling rescue horses to a slaughterhouse. A potential breach of contract may also lead to a civil claim against her.

The woman who originally owned the horse sought to re-home him when she realized she would no longer be able to financially provide for the aging animal. When she posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a “retirement home” for her horse, she got a quick response from a student studying veterinary medicine at an out-of-state university. The student said she had a farm and another horse who would benefit from having a companion. The student traveled to Georgia and wanted to take the horse with her that same day. The woman, who had a degree in Equestrian Studies, drew up a quick contract stating that if the student could no longer care for the horse, the animal would be returned.

The woman communicated with the student several times after that, but became suspicious when the student refused to send a photo of the horse. After some research, the woman found that the student had been flagged by a Facebook group for selling to “kill-buyers.” The student may have affected 50 horses from six states. She has been charged in two different states for the crime of bringing property into the state that was obtained by false pretenses.

In addition to the criminal charges, the student could be facing a civil claim of fraud. In Georgia, the law states that monetary damages may be awarded to victims if there is proof that fraudulent actions can be attributed to the defendant. The contract created by the woman may also allow a breach of contract claim to be brought against the student. Anyone in a similar situation would be wise to consult with an experienced equine law attorney.