W.Va. Horse Breeder Charged with Cruelty

An Arabian horse breeder is facing more than 30 counts of animal cruelty in connection with the alleged maltreatment of animals on her West Virginia farm.

Roane County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jeff Smith said that on Jan. 18 while responding to a tip, he discovered 14 dead horses on a farm near Reedy, W.Va. The following day, acting on a warrant, Smith and West Virginia Department of Agriculture personnel discovered two more dead animals. Another 20 live horses were also discovered during the search, he said. The surviving horses were allegedly malnourished due to inadequate access to food, and all the horses were infested with parasites and in need of veterinary care, Smith said.

"They were in pretty bad shape," Smith said.

The Roane County Sheriff's Department subsequently seized the surviving horses, he said, and all the animals are now under the care of Sheriff's Department personnel.

The horses' owner, Tory Morgan, was subsequently charged with 36 animal cruelty counts for allegedly maltreating the horses, Smith said. Each count carries potential penalties of up to $2,000 in fines or up to 6 months in jail. Morgan remains in the Roane County jail in lieu of $90,000 bond, Smith said. She was unavailable for comment.

Morgan's website describes the animals as "purebred pinto/sabino Arabians of primarily Crabbet and Spanish bloodlines and pinto half-Arab Sport Ponies." Smith said that Morgan brought 42 horses her to Roane County when she relocated to West Virginia from Pennsylvania last year. Of those, six horses remain unaccounted for, Smith said.

"I charged her with 36 counts because those were all the horses I could account for," Smith said. "We don't know what happened to the other six."

Morgan is slated to appear in court on the charges on Feb. 1, Smith said.

In the meantime, the Roane County Sheriff's Department has filed a civil request seeking ownership of the horses, Smith said. Morgan has five days to surrender the horses or to request a hearing. If she fails to respond, or if the court orders that the Sheriff's Department assume ownership of the horses, the animals will be made available for adoption into qualified homes, Smith said.

"We've already gotten calls from people and groups interested in the horses," he said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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