West Virginia Rescue Operator Pleads Guilty

The operator of a West Virginia equine rescue will pay a $1,000 fine and is prohibited from owning animals for five years after pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty under a plea deal entered in Berkeley County Magistrate Court on Oct. 21.

Last month, Berkeley County law enforcement authorities removed 53 allegedly malnourished horses and two cows from the Hidden Meadows Equine Rescue Inc., operated by Mary O'Brien. A dead horse also was found at the property. Following the removal, some of the horses were placed under rehabilitative care within the county. Eight deemed in the most critical condition were placed at the Day's End Farm Horse Rescue in Maryland. Of the eight, one later died. The rest, including two in critical condition, continue to receive rehabilitative care at the rescue.

O'Brien was later charged with 56 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Under terms of the deal, 55 of the charges were dropped in exchange to O'Brien's guilty plea. O'Brien was unavailable for comment.

Christine Bridges, DVM, the veterinarian who helped county authorities assess and care for the animals following their seizure, was disappointed in the case's outcome.

"This was a very well documented case, and we wanted it heard in court," Bridges said. "Now there's nothing else we can do about it."

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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