Charges Pending on Horses Seized from Virginia Farm

Loudoun County, Va., officials seized 48 horses from a Middleburg farm, and animal cruelty charges could be on the horizon for the horses' owners. Officials said many of the horses were emaciated, standing in areas covered by their own feces, and their drinking water was frozen in their troughs. They allege that no hay was found on the property.

Officials received an anonymous tip about the horses in November 2007, according to Laura Rizer, community outreach manager for Loudoun County Animal Care and Control. County officials brought in Karen Iovino, DVM, from Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates to assess the animals when the horses' condition appeared to take a downward turn. According to officials, she felt their condition warranted immediate removal, and the seizure took place on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

"All 48 horses are Thoroughbreds, and some were pregnant at the time of seizure," said Rizer, who is now overseeing the care of the horses at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter. "Most horses are currently being housed here at the shelter, but two of them have been moved due to medical reasons."

"We've had amazing support from the community," Rizer said. "We've had wonderful volunteers with previous horse experience that have helped with mucking, feeding, and watering."

The commonwealth's attorney is considering criminal charges of animal cruelty--a Class 1 misdemeanor. The three men identified as the owners of the Middleburg horses are Dennis Danley, Donald Cutshaw, and Pablo Cosme. Danley faced 10 animal cruelty charges in West Virginia last year, according to court documents.

A seizure hearing is scheduled for today (Jan. 30) in Virginia's General District Court in Leesburg to determine whether or not the horses will remain at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter.

About the Author

John V. Wood

John V. Wood is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, and now teaches his craft to high school students in North Carolina. Wood has been published in numerous national magazines/newspapersover his career, and published his first book in June 2010. Wood currently lives in Willow Spring, NC.

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