AUBURN — A horse in Lisbon Falls was expected to be euthanized Tuesday after a protracted court battle.

A court injunction issued in October barred the current owner of Knotty, a roughly 20-year-old gelding, from having the ailing horse put down.

But on Tuesday morning, Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice MaryGay Kennedy revoked that injunction, freeing Lisa Bosse, owner and operator of River View Farm in Lisbon Falls, to move forward with plans to end the animal’s life.

A veterinarian was standing by at the farm to carry out the procedure once Bosse received the judge’s order. Her attorney, David Van Dyke, was at the courthouse Tuesday morning awaiting a signed copy of the order that he planned to scan and email to his client.

Knotty had been at the center of a legal dispute after the horse’s previous owners, Jayne and Daniel Buck Soules of Lisbon, learned last year that Bosse intended to end the animal’s life due to chronic medical conditions that had caused his eyes to cloud, swell and be sensitive to light, and his hindquarters to lack muscle tone, preventing him from regaining his footing after a fall. Both conditions were not expected to improve.

The Souleses had sold Knotty to Bosse, but sought in court to regain ownership so they could treat the horse for suspected Lyme disease.


Both the Souleses and Bosse told the judge they had the best interest of Knotty at heart.

Justice Kennedy brokered a deal at a December court hearing whereby Knotty would remain at Bosse’s farm, but would be treated for Lyme Disease and vitamin deficiency for as long as the Souleses continued to pay a veterinarian to carry out those treatments.

But Knotty developed a new condition that required the removal of an eye, Van Dyke said Tuesday. A veterinarian temporarily overseeing Knotty’s treatment had recommended that he be euthanized after concluding he wouldn’t be able to tolerate the anesthesia necessary for the surgery, Van Dyke said.

A court hearing was scheduled for Tuesday over whether the injunction should be lifted. But an agreement between Bosse and the Souleses was reached Monday evening clearing the way for the veterinarian to euthanize Knotty on Tuesday.

Van Dyke said the turn of events has been difficult for Bosse.

“Lisa loved Knotty,” Van Dyke said. “She’s a horse person and was distressed to see how Knotty was deteriorating.”


Van Dyke said he believes the court case caused Knotty’s prolonged suffering.

“There’s a higher authority than the Superior Court and it’s God,” he said.

Curtis Webber, attorney for the plaintiffs, said his clients had initially opposed a motion Van Dyke had filed on behalf of Bosse to amend the court’s order and allow Bosse to go ahead with having Knotty euthanized.

But the position of the Souleses changed after they learned Monday from Knotty’s veterinarian that she believed the quality of the horse’s life had continued to deteriorate despite new medical treatment since December. The veterinarian said she had concluded Knotty should be put down. The Souleses withdrew their opposition to Van Dyke’s motion, Webber said.

“My clients agreed with that because their position all along has been that if there was a chance that he could live and have a decent quality of life, they didn’t want him to be euthanized,” Webber said.

Regarding the proposed eye surgery, Webber said the veterinarian told him there was a “severe risk” that Knotty wouldn’t survive the anesthesia, an added factor in his client’s decision to allow Van Dyke’s motion to prevail without their opposition.


Webber said the veterinarian told him that, had Knotty been her horse, “she would have had him put down quite a while ago,” Webber said. “So, that’s quite persuasive.”

Kennedy said in December that Knotty belonged to Bosse, despite a clause in the “Bill of Sale” that stipulated: “the seller has first refusal to take said horse back.”

The Souleses had hoped to move Knotty to a different farm and have him treated there. But a Freeport equine veterinarian agreed to by both parties in the court case had examined the horse and concluded he shouldn’t be moved from Bosse’s stable.

Although Thomas Judd apparently hadn’t diagnosed Knotty with a terminal illness nor recommended euthanizing the animal at the time the injunction was in force, he agreed with two other two vets consulted by Bosse that the horse was at risk of a potentially “catastrophic fall” that could result in death by hypothermia, especially as winter approached, given Knotty’s difficulty to regain his footing.

Webber had argued earlier that the Souleses, especially Jane Soules and her 24-year-old daughter, Josie, “would suffer irreparable harm if Knotty is put down before all the possibilities for improving his quality of life and his health are exhausted.”

Van Dyke had said Bosse only wanted to do what was humane.

Kennedy had said Judd made clear in his reports that Knotty is “getting the care and comfort and companionship at Ms. Bosse’s farm that is appropriate and that should continue.”

When asked whether the two parties would need to return to court in the event Knotty suffered a major health setback, Kennedy had said in December: “I’m truly hopeful that rational minds will prevail at that point and you won’t have to come back and ask a judge whether it is necessary to put the horse down.”

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