TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - An update to a story we've been following since 2016. A judge has ordered the owner of a horse that was living in a Toledo neighborhood to surrender the animal to the humane society.
Wayne Banks was charged with animal cruelty in connection with the case. His horse Apache has been the center of a humane society investigation since calls first started coming in about the horse in the city.
Apache's future was decided in a Toledo courtroom Wednesday.
The horse was often seen grazing in vacant lots around Western and the Anthony Wayne Trail or being ridden by Wayne on city streets.
The humane society seized the horse in March. Megan Brown is a cruelty investigator,"It's not fun to take someone's animal from them but when it's necessary, it feels pretty good."
Apache has been at a local farm since he was seized. Banks pleaded his case to get his horse back in court this morning, "I love that horse. I truly love that horse and I take care of my horse. I was born and raised on horses. I have had him in the country, but I wanted him closer to me. When I boarded him at a stable, I only got to see him once or twice a month. He's my therapy. It's not just me who loves him. My children and grandchildren love him too."
After considering the evidence, Judge Michelle Wagner announced her decision, "You are to surrender the animal to the Toledo Area Humane Society and they will adopt him out. I know this is disappointing for you, but I don't think you have the means or ability to care for the animal.There are people who are intentionally cruel and abusive or neglectful to their animals and there are people who just don't have the money to care for them. I put you in the latter category. "
In addition to having to surrender Apache, Banks was also placed on probation for five years. Under that probation he is not allowed to own a horse. He was ordered to give the humane society access to inspect his property at any time to make sure he is complying with the order. A $750 fine and 90 days jail time were suspended, meaning Banks will not have to pay the fine or serve the time as long as he meets the conditions of his probation.
Brown has been working the case for the last year, "You always hope you can just better the situation and the animal can stay with the person who loves it, but sometimes it doesn't work that way. It's sad. You have high hopes from the beginning, but sometimes it doesn't always work out. We were willing to help in every aspect. We gave him plenty of notice and let him know what would happen if he didn't comply with our recommendations and notices. He made it more difficult. We certainly offered him plenty of solutions."
The focus now is finding permanent greener pastures for Apache. Brown says that won't be hard to do, "We've had a lot of calls since this case started to adopt him. He is a lovely horse, so I am sure we'll have no problem finding him the best home possible." There's no exact timetable for Apache's adoption, but humane society leaders expect it to happen soon.