Send Man Who Starved a Retired Horse to Prison

Target: Sonoma County Judge Robert LaForge

Goal: Give man who starved horse to death a stronger sentence

A man in Windsor, California was recently found guilty of starving a retired racehorse to death. His sentence was a mere 3 years probation and community service. Penalties this weak are the reason animal cruelty continues and it needs to stop being tolerated now.

Mark Ross was originally charged with felony animal cruelty after he starved his 6-year-old horse to death in December 2010, but recently pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge and was sentenced immediately by Judge Robert LaForge. The reason for the discrepancy in the charges is because Ross agreed to plead no contest to the lesser charge because of the cost of an estimated 5-7 day trial. So rather than receive the sentence he deserved, which would have resulted in a prison term and a large fine, he was given community service so that the court could save money on the trial.

The deceased horse was brought to Ross by his niece who neglected it as well. She also received probation and community service. Siobham Duff, a representative from In Defense of Animals, said the outcome of the case was “horrible and atrocious.” Animal rights activists around the country have been speaking out vehemently because Ross had other horses on the property, which he fed properly. There was simply no excuse for it, although his lawyer claims the horse refused to eat.

This case is a perfect example of what is wrong with animal cruelty laws throughout the country and why these horrible acts continue. Mark Ross starved a horse to death, and rather than receive the felony charge he deserved, he received informal probation because the court didn’t want the trial to last longer than it had to. It shows a complete lack of respect for the lives of animals.

Please sign the petition below to demand Mark Ross receive a stronger sentence and also show that this complete lack of compassion for animals in the judicial system will not be tolerated.


Dear Judge LaForge,

You recently completed a trial in which you sentenced Mark Ross, a man found guilty of starving a horse to death, with a misdemeanor, a sentence in which the penalties were mere probation and community service. To make matters worse, the charge was originally a felony but he was offered a reduced sentence because of the cost of what was estimated to be a 5-7 day trial.

This is precisely the reason animal cruelty continues to be so prevalent. Those who abuse animals are rarely given the sentence they deserve, or which the laws stipulate. Far too often the lives of the animals involved are given very little compassion or consideration and the guilty party is set free or given weak misdemeanor charges for acts of violence that are unimaginably cruel. I urge you to reconsider your decision in this case and charge Mark Ross with the felony he was supposed to have been given so that animals will be given the protection they deserve.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: valeehill via Flickr

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  1. Shireen Mckee says:



  3. Why don’t we just starve his ass or show him some western justice. Tired of reading the same thing over & over. Ready to take action,.

  4. Patricia Wicker says:


  5. 2)If history is correct this sadist will repeat his crimes. . No1) He should face either prison and/or a severe fine.
    Be banned for life from ever having another animal.

  6. Animals have feelings to. People who are cruel to animals should get the same punishment, just like they would if it was a human. These animals don’t deserve to be treated like they are nothing. What is wrong with those who like hurting a defenseless animal? Is it a power trip that you can hurt something that is powerless? Animals are our friends who need love!

  7. Jennifer C. says:

    Any cruelty towards animals requires a punishment!

  8. Valerie Craske says:

    This man should also know what if feels like to starve and deserves worse punishment than he got,so cruel

  9. KatWrangler says:

    Does anyone know how painful it is to starve to death?
    I think the POS and family should be test cases, to let them know what suffering truly is.

    I’m pretty easy-going, but in this case, I think an eye for an eye is justice.

  10. Barbara Van Tuyl says:

    Mark Ross should do prison time and be fined hefty punitive damages which should go toward any racehorse rescue. What kind of a judge allows this type of animal abuse in his court and punishes the perp with a meaningless sentence. This reprehensible, deplorable excuse for a human being along with the pathetic judge need to be monitored by law enforcement (and perhaps the bar in case anyone in the judicial system cares about animal cruelty)to see what they do in the future. There has been an idea set forth no so long ago that called for a “registry” for want of a better word, of animal abusers. Mark Ross should head the list (right up there with the so far unknown man in a white SUV who threw a mama dog and her puppy off a bridge in Alabama. Both dogs were saved by alert passerby who jumped in and got them (puppy in a pillow case) but these people should be identified like sex offenders and never allowed to ow or handle any animals for life!

  11. Virgene Link says:

    I signed, but on reflection I think I understand why the court required community service. Our prisons are overcrowded with violent offenders. This person needs to reflect on his actions, and performing community service for three years will allow that. Small comfort for those of us who have empathy for the horse and it’s situation, but realistic when taking the cost of court and keeping people in prison.

  12. Betty Kelly says:

    This Judge is more concerned with cost of trial than Justice for victims of crimes. A fine large enough to cover the cost of a fair trail to be paid in three years;[ or Jail time] He could also sell some of his other horses so they would have enough food.

  13. What is wrong with the court?

  14. How is it that a man who starves a poor horse receives only one offense with expenses when it should rot in jail since this is mistreatment of an animal resulting in death.

  15. The petition should be directed at the PROSECUTOR as they are the ones who BRING CHARGES.

  16. After knowing somebody for 5 years as my partner, I left him in care of our horse. I bought the horse but always had intentions of having him keep it because he knew a lot about horses and he had fallen in love with this horse. He starved the horse and the horse a stud, almost died was never able to be studded, he was a Belgian , beautiful animal.
    Anyone who does that needs to be in jail. I tried to get the Sheriff after hi but he jumped counties and got away.
    What make people do this to an animal? Just to think about it I tier up

  17. Vicki Bowen says:

    In memory of this beautiful, thinking, feeling Being, who could not speak for himself as he slowly died a torturous, horrific Death, I am signing this, in hopes that the Right way to treat monsters such as this “man”, comes about quickly. To ignore this terrible travesty, is for us to perpetuate the horrible injustice of what he did.

  18. Starving to death is prolonged misery and suffering as organs shut down while experiencing excruciating hunger. It is torture. When a human knowingly allows and withholds food from an intelligent, emotional, sentient being dependent upon him/her for their welfare, it is nothing less than murder with intent. It is unconscionable and inexcusable. If this Mark Ross could not feed his horse, or just didn’t want him anymore, he could have found him another home or surrendered him to a group that would willingly take him.

    If his horse “refused” to eat, as said by his attorney, then where was the veterinarian’s documentation? Show us where he took care of this horse and its well-being instead of leaving it to suffer. It’s not there, because its a fabrication.

    There IS no excuse for this sociopathic behavior. The penalty does NOT fit the crime and at the very least he ought to get to experience some of what he dished out in jail and fined compared to the suffering of what this magnificent living being endured. This horse worked for people and did what they asked of him all his life as a race horse. He deserved better than this.

    Mark Ross needs to get to miss some meals as well and experience some severe hunger. People like this do not learn anything unless they experience it directly. Maybe just maybe it would keep him from doing something like this again when he gets out. He should never be allowed to own another defenseless, vulnerable, sentient being that depends upon him for its welfare.
    The fact that rather than receive the sentence he deserved, which would have resulted in a prison term and a large fine, he was given community service so that the court could save money on the trial is a total travesty of justice and a deep betrayal of the people and the animals that it is supposed to protect.
    Shame on the court and the Judge for allowing “budget justice”. No one is served that way! The money to cover the cost of the trial should have been part of Mark Ross’s fine! Judge’s have discretion and Judge La Forge certainly could have done better by every living being in Windsor, California– surely they deserve better than this!

  19. Volunteer Attorney says:

    This is an outrage but your letter is poorly written to express it–the Judge cannot charge this man with a felony. That is up to the prosecutor. I believe the D.A. in CA is elected–work your elections and get the word out about this case. Probably an assistant D.A. handled the case. I suggest getting ALDF lawyers to contact the prosecutor and assist with informing them of animal cruelty’s link to human violence.

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