Authorities Probe Horse Deaths in Pennsylvania

At least 20 thoroughbred horses on two farms in Pennsylvania have died in the past month and the remaining group of about 30 horses has been impounded, according to animal control officials quoted in an Associated Press story on
The horses were being kept on farms run by Terry L. Painter, a former North Huntington Township commissioner, officials said.

"It's not a simple matter of starvation. Something else is going on here," said Elaine Gower, a humane officer with Action for Animals of Latrobe in the story. "Many of the horses are in poor body condition."

The horses were kept at farms in North Huntingdon and Sewickley townships, just outside Pittsburgh.

No charges have been filed against Painter. Investigators are awaiting the results of tests being done on one of the dead thoroughbreds.

Painter could face animal cruelty charges for each of the 20 dead horses that have been found, animal officials said.

Calls to Painter's home over the weekend went unanswered. A message left at Terry Painter Racing Stables was not returned.

Officials obtained a search warrant Wednesday after learning seven dead horses had been shipped to a horse processing plant.

Humane officials first visited one of Painter's farms on March 13 and found a thoroughbred dying in a field.

Painter was ordered to seek veterinary care for the horses on that day, but Gower said there is no evidence that any of the horses were examined or treated.

"There was no veterinarian out there," she said. "It is purely a negligence charge when you fail to provide necessary veterinary care."

One of the dead horses was shipped to Ohio State University for tests at the school's renowned equine veterinary center.

The remaining thoroughbreds have now been impounded, officials said.

"Painter will not be permitted to move the horses or destroy them, because that would be tampering with evidence," Gower said.

Three horses were found dead on Wednesday and two foals were found dead on Friday, investigators said.

It appeared the horses had been underfed through the winter, said Kathy Hecker, a Pittsburgh humane officer.

A Web site for Terry Painter Racing Stables offers boarding for $120 to $150 per month, where horses are cared for by a licensed professional trainer.

The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is also investigating.


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