Jenny's Market operator Burton Hoey faces animal cruelty charges
The operator of Jenny’s Market west of Dexter is facing three animal cruelty charges as a result of an investigation by the Humane Society of Huron Valley, the agency’s lead cruelty investigator said.
Burton Hoey faces three charges of cruelty to two to three animals, said Matt Schaecher, director of cruelty and rescue for the humane society. The charges are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine and/or 300 hours of community service.
Hoey denied mistreating any animals and called the charges “a setup to get me.”
The charges follow the seizure of several animals from Jenny’s Market last month. Investigators took two horses, four donkeys and two goats from the property, alleging they were in varying stages of neglect. A horse, which was suffering from the respiratory disease heaves, has since died, Schaecher said.
Schaecher said the humane society would seek forfeiture of the remaining animals it seized from the market.
“I don’t feel I committed any crime at all,” Hoey said. “The humane society committed a crime by taking the animals. All they were looking for is a big newspaper story.”
Hoey said the humane society wanted publicity so that people would donate money to the organization. He acknowledged that one horse had heaves but said it had acquired the disease while the animal was on loan to a farmer. He said he had loaned the horse and another one to the farm and brought the horses back early when he discovered they weren’t receiving proper care.
The other seized horse had an abscess on its hoof that Hoey said had already healed. Hoey said the humane society said the donkeys’ hooves needed trimming. He said he acquired them last fall from someone who had not trimmed their feet, and he was in the process of gradually trimming them back. He said trimming the hooves all at once would have caused them to bleed.
Hoey said he should have been given a chance to correct any problems investigators found before they resorted to taking his animals
“They wouldn’t negotiate. They wouldn’t talk about it,” he said. “There were there on Wednesday and they said everything was fine. The next day they came with a bunch of police officers and a trailer. “
The market, at the intersection of Dexter-Pinckney and Island Lake roads, is a popular spot for families seeking doughnuts, cider, hayrides and other activities in the fall.
The charges are the latest development in a string of problems for the business that began last September when a hayride accident paralyzed an employee. The employee, Mary Armbruster, has sued over the incident.
The day after the accident, Webster Township delivered a stop-work order to the market alleging violations of zoning ordinances. Shortly afterward, the state of Michigan found several food safety violations at the market.
In late October, Hoey reported that two men attacked him at the market and stole several months worth of proceeds at the business. Washtenaw County sheriff’s deputies have dropped their investigation of the attack, saying Hoey wasn't cooperating and had failed a polygraph test.
Hoey sued Webster Township in April over its refusal to grant him a permit to install a bathroom. In denying the permit, township officials said Hoey had failed to submit a required site plan. Hoey and the township had been working toward a settlement, but progress recently stalled.
Earlier this month, the township brought a complaint against Jenny’s Market, alleging that what Hoey calls a “haunted straw maze” is a public nuisance and unsafe. The township wants a judge to order the maze removed.
Hoey alleges the township and humane society are harassing him, and the township wants to drive him out of business.
“This stuff’s got to stop. I’m not a bad person, and I’m running a decent place here.”