DANVILLE — A Danville woman testified she wouldn't have given a zebra hybrid, or a zony, she had to another woman if she didn't believe he would have a forever home.
Michelle Willoughby said Thursday Brittany Johnson, of Lehighton, told her she planned to open a petting zoo on her farm.
Willoughby spoke during the civil trial Thursday before Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder in the suit she filed against Johnson who sold Smokey, a zebra mixed with either a pony or a horse. Shrawder said he would make a decision within five days. Willoughy is seeking $2,900 plus court costs, which is what it cost her to buy Smokey from a woman in the south.
After the trial, Willoughby said she was happy he was home and she didn't plan to give him up. She previously gave him up to lighten her workload and finances since her daughters were in college. She has had Smokey for 15 years.
"He will never go through another auction if I can help it. A horse auction is terrifying to an animal, especially the zebra in him," said Willoughy. She also has three horses.
Attorney David James, who represented Willoughby, contended there was an oral agreement in giving Smokey a forever home and negligent misrepresentation on Johnson's part.
Attorney Pat O'Connell, representing Johnson, said the case didn't involve a conditional gift, such as a woman accepting an engagement ring, deciding not to marry and the law allowing the purchaser to sue for the ring. He said there was no fraud, breach of contract or negligent misrepresentation.
Johnson testified there was no written agreement when she went to Willoughby's home and took Smokey. She said she didn't promise she would provide him with a forever home.
"You never know what may happen in life," the horse dealer said. She said she never said she was opening a petting zoo. She said she told Willoughby Smokey would have a good home and be taken care of. Johnson said a former trainer handled him and could put a saddle on him and sit on him. He also cleaned his hooves. She said she ended up with $1,197 from Smokey's sale. "He was a little bit wild when I took him," she said.
Willoughby testified she had placed Smokey on a Facebook site and spoke with someone from animal refuge Lake Tobias. She said she got a call from her daughter's horse instructor asking her if she still was looking for a home for him. She contacted Johnson Feb. 18 and Johnson picked him up Feb. 21.
Through a mutual friend on Facebook, she discovered Smokey was sold to Dana Carlough for $1,300 at the North Carolina Dixie Horse Auction the weekend of March 22-24. She contacted Johnson, who told her she couldn't do anything since someone else owned him. Willoughby reached Carlough and bought Smokey for $2,500. Willougby said she also paid $200 to drive two hours to meet Carlough part-way for a total of about $2,900.
Before giving Smokey up, Willoughby said she spoke with her daughter's riding instructor about Johnson. She said she got a couple of text messages from Johnson before she picked him up.
Johnson, who said she buys and sells horses, testified she has 43 stalls with about 35 horses and three barns on her property and has no intention of opening a petting zoo.